While the world continues to battle the health and economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, environmental and animal campaigner Dame Jane Goodall has spoken up about the root causes of the global pandemic for which she believes humans should be accountable.
Speaking to Channel 4 News, Goodall told the world this week that ‘we’ve done this to ourselves’.
“This pandemic, or similar, has been predicted for years … we’ve been destroying the animals’ habitats, which means the animals themselves are crowded together. Some of those animals are forced to move out and be in greater contact with humans. That’s how these pandemics start.”
Addressing the wildlife markets commonly associated with the outbreak of diseases, Goodall said the act of ‘putting animals from all different countries, along with their viruses’ together in a confined area allows the viruses to ‘happily jump’ from animals to humans. Factory farms, she said, are ‘another great breeding place for new disease’.
People tend to forget the climate crisis because of the panic over COVID-19
When asked if she believes the world should ban such markets and the animal trafficking practices which take place in them, Goodall told Channel 4’s chief correspondent Alex Thomson that ‘obviously, we should’. “Because many epidemics before this have started in the same way … we need to close down the meat markets permanently.”
Prior to the pandemic, a mounting climate crisis campaign was gathering support around the world, with the voices of activists such as Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg becoming more prominent. But with coronavirus now dominating headlines globally, Goodall says ‘people tend to forget the climate crisis because of the panic over COVID-19’. “But it’s our disrespect that’s caused both.”
“I think it’s time we began realizing it’s because we have disrespected animals and disrespected the environment. We need the natural world for clean air, for clean water, we need clean, uncontaminated soil to grow our food.”
I also hope that this wakes people up
Practices such as re-wilding, Thompson pointed out in the video interview, can lead to significant improvements. “That’s one of my reasons for hope. If we lose hope, that’s the end. There must be millions of people who want to keep this status quo that’s happened because of the lockdown: breathing clean air in Mumbai and in Beijing, looking up and seeing the stars twinkling in the night sky – for some of them, that’s a completely new experience. Nobody’s going to want to go back to the pollution and the ugliness that we create.
“I also hope that this wakes people up to a better understanding of who animals are and stop thinking of them as commodities. They weren’t put here for us to exploit and abuse. They were part of a wonderful, vibrant world and we come along and do our best to destroy it.
“The biggest difference between us, chimpanzees and other animals is the development of this extraordinary intellect, so isn’t it bizarre that this most intellectual creature is destroying its only home?”