Listening to the depressing news about the Coronavirus pandemic and the havoc it has wreaked on lives and economies around the globe, its easy to think that it was unavoidable. Certainly, none of the mainstream media give any meaningful acknowledgement of the association between pandemics and the way we treat the planet. Parallels are often drawn with the Spanish Influenza of 1918 and the cyclical nature of pandemics. However, such parallels are misleading. Whilst pandemics are cyclical, both the probability and frequency of pandemics occurring are inextricably linked to the destructive impact of human overpopulation and environmental degradation.
According to the New Scientist , for every star in the known universe, there are at least 10 million viruses on Earth! Viruses are so small that more than 100 million can fit on a pinhead. Compared to viruses, humans are thus massively outnumbered. There is an undeniable relationship between virus transmission and the number of humans on the planet, increased globalisation and human impingement on virus-harbouring wildlife habitats.
As the human population grows inexorably upwards, deforestation, hunting, wildlife trade and conversion of land for agriculture are exposing more people to zoonotic diseases whereby viruses spread from animals to humans. According to a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society , the causes of wildlife population declines have facilitated the transmission of animal viruses to humans. The UN has also warned that up to one million species are at risk of extinction due to human activity. The stakes could not be higher.
When we destroy Nature we destroy ourselves. Global markets and the stampede to foster economic growth ignore this simple yet powerful tenet. As we have seen, markets are defenceless in the face of a rapidly spreading virus. Another pandemic involving a more virulent virus in the next few years would result in economic collapse.
Wherever overpopulation occurs, Nature will always seek to redress the balance. Human overpopulation and destruction of wildlife habitats present viruses with greater transmission opportunities. As James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia theory, has said "We are an opportunity for the virus... If you go on building up the population, it's almost inevitable." Cruel and dirty factory farming of animals for meat production is also providing a reservoir for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and is a ticking timebomb. Reducing meat consumption, reducing family sizes, cutting carbon emissions and buying sustainable products from eco friendly companies can all have a positive impact.
In today's civilised societies, we are shielded from carnivorous predators and our legal and security services seek to protect us from harming each other. We feel safe and separated from the ravages of Nature. Yet this is an illusion. We are part of a vast eco-system, only the predators now are different.
Nature is vastly more powerful than all human ingenuity and technology combined. We can change our destructive ways and look to build a more sustainable future, or Nature can make the changes herself. The choice is ours.
 Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24833104-300-the-race-to-find-and-stop-viruses-that-could-cause-the-next-pandemic/#ixzz6ez5Obcer
 Global shifts in mammalian population trends reveal key predictors of virus spillover risk, https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.2736
 James Lovelock: Gaia theory creator on coronavirus and turning 101 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/science-environment-53644147