Human Manipulation of the Natural World and the Ways in Which it Induced a Global Pandemic

     The current global pandemic STILL has many of us questioning how this came into play. While rumors have spread quickly regarding a single bat in Wuhan, China being to blame, this was not the root cause. Ultimately, what caused a virus of this nature to spread rapidly across the globe is the human manipulation of the natural world. Three human induced causes of the COVID-19 pandemic have been, 1. the alteration of human and animal interactions, 2. effects from underserved communities, and 3. wildlife trafficking.  

 

1. When understanding the interactions between animals and humans, we think that they must be dealt with as separate entities, however, this is not the case. We need to focus on animal and human health as interconnected, not individually. Whether it be for new homes, highways, or factories, humans continually encroach on the habitats of wild animals for their own benefit. In doing so, we create animal-human interfaces, where we were once separated from one another, but now are not because of human destruction. This destruction comes in many forms such as deforestation, habitat destruction, and pollution of the environment. This allows for spillover of zoonotic viruses, such as COVID-19, from animals to humans and this is where we begin to see disease ravage communities. We must focus on One Health (health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment) because animals, humans, and the environment, are all closely linked.

 

2. Another human induced cause of the pandemic is effects from underdeveloped  communities. This isn’t to say that underserved communities are the cause of the pandemic. Rather, it is the inability of humans to recognize these communities and give them the proper aid to minimize their negative effects on the control of disease. In these communities, locals are living in extreme poverty and do not have the resources to survive. These people are tempted to hunt and poach in order to make a small profit to support their families. The effects from this hunting and poaching go far beyond the borders of these communities. It may be that the animals are being traded to other countries, or being sold as exotic goods and food. There is a great risk posed to the communities and populations that these hunted animals are coming into contact with, and it makes it easier for a virus to spread from animal to human.  

 

3. As a result of these underdeveloped communities that do not have access to proper resources to survive, there is an increase in live animal trade. Poaching and wildlife trafficking go hand in hand. The scale at which the United States imports live animals is approximately 200 million animals annually. These numbers do not include illegal shipments, which are also prevalent. These shipments allow for unknown pathogens to enter countries due to lack of disease surveillance on these animals. At the rate at which this global trade occurs, there is bound to be the spread of disease from one country to another via animals.

 

     Humans are fully responsible for this pandemic and the continued spread of the coronavirus. Animals, although being vectors for these zoonotic viruses, are not at fault. It is the continued human alteration of how the world naturally functions that allowed for the coronavirus to spread as rapidly as it did. In order to prevent future outbreaks, the human race needs to reevaluate and understand that we are not the only living creatures on this planet.