The exact cause of COVID-19 is still unclear. Most likely it reached us from bats and pangolins, escaping from wild animals into semi-wild animals and then to domestic animals such as us. By finding us, the virus (so hard not to write that in capitals THE VIRUS and does everyone else hear it in their heads with a reverberation of doom?) found a host in which it could replicate freely and therefore infect more people and replicate even more. Replication = success for viruses and we don’t know, yet, of anybody who has natural immunity to COVID-19.
The pandemic caused by COVID-19 has not been linked to the continuing crisis of climate change. Yet. Yet, we might want to get used to our current living conditions as climate change will increase the number of pandemics and regional epidemics.
More worryingly still, is that food safety will get more challenging as the climate changes. As temperatures increase and there are more extreme climate events leading to more droughts in some areas and more flooding in others, research into pathogens has shown that there will be more foodborne illness.
We can all do something about this. Most importantly don’t forget about climate change while sheltering at home. It hasn’t, unfortunately, gone away just because the air is now cleaner and animals are taking over our cities and towns.
The bigger picture is to urge our political leaders to start acting on climate change now. We can do little picture things at home, like turn out the lights when we are not in a room, change our light fixtures to more energy efficient ones, start a garden.
We can also do something about food safety at home. During the COVID-19 shelter in place, we’ve all learnt to finally wash our damn hands. We’ve learnt about cleaning and sanitizing commonly used equipment and surfaces. Even when we have a vaccine for COVID-19 we should keep practicing those good habits. We should make sure we are cooking our food properly to kill off pathogenic bacteria. Especially if we intend to store the food for any length of time.
Finally, we should look to making our local communities more resilient. What are some of the amazing things you’ve seen happening in your neighborhood? Share ideas of community building in the comments so that we can learn from one another.
Now wash your damn hands!