Lessons from Global Pandemic, Covid-19: Do not Dominate and Shrink the Natural World

The inquisitive human race has always been exploring the deepest mysteries of nature. When it is done in synchronization with its rhythm, new discoveries and inventions take place. But when these efforts of humans start venturing to establish their dominion over nature, rather than being a concomitant friend, it leads to ecological imbalance and creates serious threats for the very existence of this ever curious, ever intrigued race.

A little virus has not only kneeled down the greatest world powers like China and USA, and has “locked down” the great centres of trade and business but has also shown us our real place in the overall plan of celestial and planetary realities.

Global economy is shuddering, supply chains are stagnant, schools and colleges are shut and millions of health care workers and public utility providers are facing war like dangers.

We are witnessing a cruel reality of being a ‘Global Village’. Who says that the food habits and preferences are personal choices and cultural manifestations, and no one has the right to comment on them? Uncontrolled taste buds of one or few persons in the rambling capital of Central China’s Hubei province have extinguished the livelihoods of millions and clogged the lives of thousands worldwide. So, we must disclaim this myth that something wrong happening in some part of the world has nothing to do with us, unless it knocks our doors.

It is high time to retrospect what this coronavirus has to tell us as the human species, our prevailing economic, technological, social and cultural paradigms, as well as the earth.

First and foremost, we must understand the difference between economic growth and economic development.  Economic Growth happens when the real output of a particular country goes up in a specific span of time. Whereas, Economic Development is a much broader term referring to processes focusing on both qualitative and quantitative growth of the economy keeping in mind the entire phenomenon collectively.

Development in real sense ensures improved production along with supplementation of living standards, advancement of technology, high quality opportunities for education, healthcare, employment and the conservation of the environment altogether.

It focuses more on Human Development Index which envisions other indexes like gender related index, human poverty index, infant mortality rate, etc.  It is multidimensional concept which argues that standard of living encompasses various things like safe drinking water; improved sanitation systems, medical facilities, the spread of primary education to improve literacy rate, eradication of poverty, balanced transport networks, increase in employment opportunities, etc.

We need to reset our priorities as human race; and realize whether we want blind, one-dimensional growth or multidimensional development which is sustainable and just. This little virus Covid-19 has exposed the human race to the harsh reality that global economy based on the delusion of limitless growth deciphers into a never-ending greed for the natural resources.

This in turn leads us to a vicious situation where we justify unlimited destruction and abuse of environmental limits, biome frontiers and species precincts as well, in the name of growth and development and the so called optimum utilization of resources that our management books have glorified so fiercely for long.

The second lesson is that we must accept that we are neither the masters nor the sole proprietors of this planet and there are other living beings too with which we share this place. There is nothing strange to see elephants near normally flooded with people water bodies, peacocks or leopards roaming around the traffic free cities. There is nothing strange to see flock of birds chirping right outside our balconies. There is nothing strange to see the dolphins returning back to water bodies. It is their home too. We are the infiltrators and invaders into their territories and peaceful habitats.

Roads are empty in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, where a strict lockdown is in effect.

I want to reiterate that neither this pandemic nor any climate extreme is a “natural disaster”. No, these are the results of our own deeds. These are “Anthropogenic” — caused by human actions.  We have developed our faculty of Science and technology enough to remind us that it can conclude with conformity that the more we assault plantation, the more we play with ecosystems, the more we abolish the homes of species and manipulate plants and animals for returns, more we build circumstances for new-fangled diseases, viruses, infections and maladies.

Sooner we understand this, better it is or else we will be listed in those one million species threatened with extinction owing to our own human greed, superciliousness, negligence and frivolity.
Almost every fatal emergency that our forefathers and we have witnessed in their or our times is deeply engrained in a robotic, aggressive, emotionless, irresponsible and anthropocentric vision of human race, is clearly working against nature and isn’t in cognizance with its powers.

We are the biggest fools to believe that we can misuse and control Mother Nature, its ecological balance, its food chains, its water cycle etc. and manipulate other species and also our own species as sheer entities for profits. Any business or economic model that ignores biological equilibrium and crosses ecological and ethical limits to achieve profits is actually very shallow and short lived. We have no right to infringe the boundaries of natural systems and balances. We have no right to surpass the rights of other species and no right to ignore the rights of future generations.

Thirdly, we must accept that environmental restoration through structural changes is a responsibility, we cannot get away with. Some of us are happy to see a blue sky or clear air during lockdown. Definitely we should be, as this is a rare view in today’s world. But we should not overlook this fact that most of these environmental improvements during pandemics have been short-lived. When the epidemic of 1610 killed most of the native population of Latin America and the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels dropped dramatically from the normal. Also, as most of the people who died were farmers and their fields were no longer tended, trees grew up extensively absorbing atmospheric CO2 and thereby releasing more oxygen. But this relief was temporary paving way for a cool planet and a ‘little ice age’.

This means that post lockdown and once we overcome this crisis, maintaining natural balance and conserving environment will ask for large-scale ecological restoration and some bits and pieces band adages keeping cunning tinkering with the economy in mind along with some techno-fixes will not work.

Mother Nature has her own ways of restoration but this in no way forgives our crimes committed against her. We have to rebuild what we have destroyed. During and post this lock down, we need to solve our lifestyle issues and win over our greed and manipulative practices, learn to respect our counter species and whole heartedly share their due with them.

Science and technology are our allies and helpful tools to solve real problems of human race. Let’s not misuse the great mental capacities of human race in a shallow desire to rule and master mother earth that no way is in competition with us. We need to decide whether we want to coexist with natural powers or face extinction due to our own sins as the loss is all ours. The Earth will continue to evolve, with or without us. She is all powerful and does not require anyone’s intervention or mercy to restore its glory. The lockdown of nearly the whole world is a perfect proof of this reality.

Believe me, all will be fine then!

Prof. Himanshi Tiwari (View Full Profile)
Assistant Professor Organizational Behaviour & Human Resource Management, BIMTECH

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