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  • How Can Environmental Controls Prevent Another Pandemic?

How Can Environmental Controls Prevent Another Pandemic?

May 13 2020 Read 676 Times

A cross-party collection of MPs has written to the government asking them to consider the environmental implications of coronavirus when charting the British economy’s recovery from the pandemic. In a letter spearheaded by the ex-leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas, the group have stressed that curbing destructive practices and shoring up healthcare services should form the cornerstone of the post-COVID0-19 approach.

The premise of the argument is that human health is contingent on that of the planet itself and on the other species which call it home. Therefore, damaging industries such as agriculture, deforestation and aviation (to name but a few) should be better regulated to ensure that a repeat occurrence of the pandemic is not experienced in the future.

Planning an exit route

While much of the government’s current task sheet involves working alongside the scientific community to find innovative ways to tackle the spread of coronavirus (as well as searching for a vaccine to eradicate it completely), there will hopefully soon come a day when it’s time to plan our exit strategy from the ongoing malaise.

Of course, those who have been struggling economically during this unprecedented crisis will be hungry for assurances that the economy is going to rebound with gusto, but such a scenario should not come at the expense of the planet which we call home. There is a growing body of evidence that the virus stemmed from intensive contact with wildlife, brought about by overmining, agriculture and exploitation of land.

A list of reasonable demands

As a result, the group of 26 MPs led by Lucas has asked for prudence when it comes to navigating our path out of the pandemic. They have asked for those industries which directly pollute and destroy the Earth to be more tightly controlled, with any economic subsidies for them contingent on companies committing to environmentally sustainable behaviour.

At the same time, they have highlighted the healthcare sector as a priority investment concern, especially in countries where the infrastructure has not advanced as far as others. All decisions taken regarding the UK’s economic future should not be based upon immediate profits and losses alone, but rather their holistic consequences and costs, both in fiscal and ecological terms.

“No negotiating with a virus”

Lucas was the chief author of the letter, but other signatories included Sir Edward Davey, co-leader of the Liberal Democrats, Liz Saville Roberts, leader of Plaid Cymru, seven Labour MPs and several from the Labour Party. Conservatives were conspicuous by their absence.

“For too long, governments have ignored the link between the emergence of disease and climate change or biodiversity loss, failing to recognise that human health depends on the health of animals, plants and our shared environment too,” said Lucas. “If our economic system continues to push the natural world to destruction and fuel the climate emergency, we will become ever more vulnerable to future pandemics.”

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