“The food on our plates, the rings on our fingers and the wooden furniture in our homes: all too often there is a violent reality behind household items we use everyday.” These are the opening lines of the report ‘At What Cost?’ by the international NGO Global Witness which works on the intersections of human rights, environment and corruption. It goes on to contexualise this statement by adding, “As agribusiness booms, tropical forests are logged and mining continues to deliver huge revenue to major global corporations, there are increasingly brutal attacks on land and environmental defenders.” The Report documents the disturbing trend of environmental defenders being killed on the frontlines of these conflict regions. In 2017, it documented the murder of 207 activists around the world. Of these 11 were Indians.
But what does this have to do with our theme of ‘connection and care’ during Covid-19 times?
As we find ourselves inundated with information on the ways to manage and deal with the virus through the crisis, a few voices are urgently also bringing up the question of: why did this crisis occur and how could we have prevented it. As it turns out, the aggravating human-animal-environment conflict is central to unraveling, understanding and responding to this crisis holistically. Beyond the immediate solution of developing vaccines and the continued need for re-energising our public health care systems, understanding the relationship of the virus to environmental conflicts helps us begin to see how we can altogether prevent the next infectious disease crisis.
In our previous TCC episode, ‘Keeping Quiet’ I spoke of how the lockdown offers us an important moment of stillness that allows us to experience our world in new and wondrous ways helping us re-examine and re-consider our current relationship with the natural world. In our 10th episode, ‘Hitched to the Universe’, I take this exploration of the current crisis further and enter the strange and fascinating world of zoonotic diseases to understand how the occurrence of the Covid-19 pandemic, in of itself, has something to do with our fraying relationship with the planet.
In her article ‘Moving Beyond a Fear of Bats’, Deepika, examines how the fear based knee-jerk reaction to cull bats because of their possible relationship to the Covid-19 crisis, needs examining. Bringing in the voices of researchers and bat experts she shares how leaning into and exploring our fear might be the first step in repairing our relationship with the creatures that share the planet with us.
You can explore the topic further by considering some of our suggested readings and by continuing to be a part of our campaign spaces through the month! We are happy to share that all our podcast episodes are now also available in our youtube channel – so please do subscribe and share!
We hope you continue to stay safe and healthy.