Green-lighting ecological decimation amidst a pandemic -Chitrangada Choudhury and Aniket Aga
Projects in critical forest habitats are being considered or have been given clearance by the Environment Ministry
Few countries are witnessing such severe direct and indirect devastation on account of the COVID-19 pandemic as India. Yet, there is little attention on the roots of our vulnerability. Our challenge is hardly limited to escaping a virus with lockdowns and masks in the short term, and vaccination in the long term.
It would be a mistake to approach the pandemic as a bolt from the blue, or an aberration that will eventually pass for ‘normalcy’ to return. Our vulnerabilities lie not just in the absence of equitable access to food, healthcare and housing but go to the heart of global development models that sacrifice environmental resilience for limitless economic growth and wealth accumulation.
The 21st century has seen multiple lethal epidemics. Two were serious enough for the World Health Organization to designate as pandemics. The accelerating destruction of wild habitats, forests and diversified food systems for urbanisation, mining, and industry means pathogens which were once largely confined to animals and plants in the wild are now better positioned to infect humans. The expansion of monoculture cropping and livestock farming systems, coupled with dense human settlements dependent on narrow diets of global commodity crops and meat, are eliminating the biodiversity and distance barriers that lent resilience to the human species and domesticated plants and animals. A virulent pathogen can then trigger an epidemic that much more easily. As long as we do not address this march to unsustainability, we will remain vulnerable to pandemic outbreaks.
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The Hindu, 9 July, 2020, https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/green-lighting-ecological-decimation-amidst-a-pandemic/article32024948.ece
Tagged with: Biodiversity Climate Change Environmental Degradation Industrial Farming Livestock Mining Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change Monoculture Public Hearing Wildlife Habitats Zoonoses Zoonosis Zoonotic Diseases