Supporting Conservation During a Pandemic
Created: Wednesday, 27 May 2020 10:12
These days, much of the news is about COVID-19 and the Coronavirus that causes it. In the weeks since the outbreak came to southern Vancouver Island, more and more media reports are now focusing on the political and social issues related to the pandemic. Some of these articles are important commentaries on the way different governments are handling (or have handled) their COVID-19 reactions while other stories are more polarized. There are also outlets reporting on how COVID-19 and Climate Change are “parallel” (UN News 28 April 2020), yet there are even fewer discussing how one is, like the image above hints, heavily linked to the other.
Unlike the image to the left, Climate Change isn’t “coming,” it is already here (LA Times, Opinion, 15 Sept 2019). Like the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a process with a “curve” very much similar to the line graphs we’re getting used to seeing with the “flatten the curve” strategy (Treble, 29 April 2020) - the less we do to mitigate the human causes of a drastically changing climate, the steeper the “curve” of its effects (on ecosystems, biodiversity, and human society) will be in the short term. The relationship between Climate Change and the COVID-19 pandemic also serve as very good reasons for continuing to support conservation and environmental initiatives during the pandemic.
Climate change, biodiversity, and habitat conservation are very much linked to the ongoing pandemic, mostly in how this novel coronavirus began. According to Nicole Mortillaro, the global decline in biodiversity is putting species into contact in new ways, creating more conditions for viruses and the diseases they cause to “jump” species (Mortillaro 2020). Doubling the impact of this, habitat loss contributes to the loss of biodiversity and often puts species into contact in very drastic ways, particularly when that loss is linked to resource extraction.
While the current pandemic did not begin in southern Vancouver Island, the experience is giving us an opportunity to see certain things happen at home. We are only as resilient as the ecosystems that sustain us, and they are only as resilient as the biodiversity that they’re made up of. Within this resilience are built in layers of protection that slow or even stop the advance of everything from contagious diseases (in the case of a pandemic) (Roston 2020), to wildfires (Goldman 2016). It seems that biodiversity isn’t just how diverse the biological mass of the planet is, it’s actually something that regulates the way many things interact!
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