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Most Pathogens That Have Impacted Humans In Last 50 Years Came From Deforestation: Conservation Activist Vandana Shiva

Highlights

  1. Activist Vandana Shiva talks about sustaining ecological gains
  2. She calls for policies to protect environment
  3. She urges people to respect nature and live in harmony with animals
New Delhi: 

SARS-CoV-2, a member of the coronavirus family has put the whole world into a lockdown. The medical community and scientists around the world have been struggling to find ways to test, treat and deal with this virus that causes COVID-19. In the meanwhile, since the lockdown has begun and humans have been kept away from the outside world, nature seems to be on a path to recovery with cleaner air and water, clearer sky and birds and animals wandering more freely. According to environmental activist Vandana Shiva, in order to protect these environmental gains from slipping away once the lockdown is lifted, there is a need to take policy decisions focusing on the interconnectedness of the environment, forests, agriculture, and people's health.

While speaking during the telethon on Hero Cycles-NDTV #TheCycleOfChange, a campaign initiated with an aim to look at ways to sustain these environmental gains from slipping away once the lockdown is lifted, Ms Shiva pointed out that about 300 new pathogens that have impacted the humanity in the last 50 years are a result of deforestation. She said,

In the past, the destruction of the Western Ghats led to the monkey disease and similarly, the Ebola virus, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) are all result of the invasion by humans into forests and destroying the environment. The new coronavirus is also a result of invasion into the forest ecosystem.

Political Will Can Determine Environmental Conservation

Ms. Shiva asserted that environment conservation is a political issue since the lives and livelihood of millions of people are affected due to crisis like pandemic and climate change. The anti-globalisation activist and author of more than 20 books said that coronavirus is an ecological issue and a political issue which could have been avoided had there been adequate environmental policies in place. She said,

This is a wake-up call to us all and a time to change the way we function, The way we understand ‘development'. Invasion of forests by the system has led to chronic diseases in places like Amazon and Indonesia and with the chronic diseases on the surface, the mortality due to COVID-19 will amplify substantially, For example, in India the victims of Bhopal Gas Tragedy are dying because of coronavirus. The government must not give clearances to projects that can cause floods, famines and pandemics in future.

She highlighted that the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has been giving approvals to big projects that are planned to operate in forests and demanded that the government of India should focus on conserving the little forest that is left in the country after years of destruction in the name of development.

The policies, according to Ms. Shiva should focus on ‘ease of living' and ‘ease of health' instead of ‘ease of business'.

She said that the government should encourage indigenous manufacturers and business instead of the foreign, just as Mahatma Gandhi advocated for ‘Swadeshi' so that the people of the country get empowered.

Ms. Shiva recommended that it is the high time to learn from the regenerative power of nature and as a next step, humanity needs to work on co-evolution with nature, reduce ecological footprints and create the economies of care where every person has work and food. She urged the government to think of the rejuvenation of the country through rural areas and by reviving the agriculture and ecology in the villages.

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