By Paul Homewood

For years, we were assured it was all about the climate. There have of course been many hints otherwise, but COVID now seems to have given the eco-extremists confidence to come out into the open:

The COVID-19 pandemic is not a random event. It is a symptom of a global economic system that is destroying the living planet.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a nightmare for all of us. As vaccines are deployed across the world, many hope we’ll soon be able to return to our previous lives. But before we rush to resume ‘business as usual’, we should pause to consider where COVID came from.

Like many infectious diseases, COVID-19 has its origins in the encroachment of human activity into the natural world. As countries have sought to grow their economies, activities like logging, mining, road building, agricultural expansion and urbanisation cause massive habitat destruction.

This in turn has brought people into ever closer contact with wild animal species, many of which carry dangerous pathogens and diseases. When humans venture into ecosystems and destroy the habitats of wild species, these diseases can jump from animals into the human population.

Around three-quarters of new diseases that infect humans come from other animals. In the case of COVID-19, scientists believe the virus originated in the wild bat population before being transmitted to humans

Around three-quarters of new diseases that infect humans come from other animals.

COVID-19 is not a random event. It is a symptom of a global economic system that is destroying the living planet and killing off our magnificent wildlife.

COVID-19 might be the first pandemic many of us have experienced. But unless we change course, it will almost certainly not be the last.

So before we spend billions of dollars reinstating the status quo, perhaps it’s time for a rethink. In order to prevent future pandemics and tackle ecological and climate breakdown, governments must take a different path. What would this look like?

It means investing to decarbonise the global economy as fast as possible, and shrinking our environmental footprint. It means bringing an end to destructive activities like deforestation and intensive mining. And it means ending our addiction to economic growth and putting the needs of people and the planet first.

After the financial crisis in 2008, we bailed out the banks. In 2021, we need to bail out the planet.

The whole basis of his argument, that COVID is the result of human civilisation, is of course absurd. Humans have always come into contact with the animal world. Indeed nowadays there is probably less contact, since most of us live in cities. The past certainly had more than its share of animal borne disease, such as the Black Death, malaria and yellow fever. Almost certainly the Spanish Flu and goodness knows how many similar viruses in the past came from animals too.

It is thanks to the human civilisation which he mocks, that most of these diseases are either wiped out or contained.

And what does Monbiot suggest we put in its place? He does not bore us with tales of renewable energy, which I suspect he knows is little more than a fraud. No, he wants to put an end to economic growth, which inevitable will end up in degrowth, and drastic at that.

Translation – we will all be poorer, not least those poor saps in the Third World who are desperate to improve their standards of life.

And how will all of this be enforced, oh wise one? How, for instance, will you stop Brazil or Indonesia from cutting down forests? Or Zambia from digging mines? (I take it by the way that you would want the Congo to stop mining cobalt?) How will you stop technological progress, which has been the engine of economic growth and better standards of living? How will Toyota be made to produce fewer cars? And how will you stop China and India from continuing their industrialisation?

And, obviously, it is not just a simple matter of issuing some edict ending economic growth, as there is the question of who will pay the cost. As a simple example, lower economic output means there is less money for governments to spend – so will spending on the NHS or welfare state be cut?

And how is the smaller cake to be divided? In George’s brave new world, it is inevitable that many will continue to prosper. No doubt George himself will do alright. But there will be many others down the scale who will have to go without some of the things they regard as necessities of life.

Monbiot thinks this is putting the needs of people first. I suspect the people will disagree.


April 10, 2021 at 01:33PM