Monday, 28 December 2020 15:46

NST Leader: How we wronged 2020

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NST Leader: How we wronged 2020 NSTP file pic

THERE are only three days left in the year we want to so hurriedly get away from.

Truth be told, there is nothing wrong with 2020. It is we who have made it an "annus horribilis".

Never has a year been sent to humans as a test on such a global scale before. In every nation and territory around the world, men failed the year.

Yet, like humans often do, we blame 2020 for all our misdeeds. The year 2021 will be no different if only the year changes and not our errant behaviours.

Mankind's misdeeds are aplenty, but let's consider just three. Firstly, the misdeed that led to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, to jump species.

From what is known thus far, the coronavirus may have jumped to the first human host in Wuhan in China from bats or pangolins through an intermediary animal host, a civet cat.

The coronavirus was said to have been found in a wet market in Wuhan. To be fair, the evidence in what has come to be called the Wuhan who dunnit isn't conclusive, but what is incontestable is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from an animal host.

How do the animals get so close to us? This happens in two ways. First, some of us bring wildlife, hosts of zoonotic diseases, to our dining tables.

This is like handing over the key to the door of our human cells to the coronavirus. This must stop. So must our encroachment on the habitats of our wildlife in the name of development.

Environmentalists and medical scientists have long warned of the danger of zoonosis, the process by which the virus makes the leap from animals to humans, that is being hastened by our relentless encroachment on wildlife habitats.

An article in the North Carolina State University's website quotes Dr Roland Kays, a Research Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, as saying that six out of 10 infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic.

The main culprit? Illegal wildlife wet markets. Some of the worst diseases have emerged from there, says Kays.

Puzzlingly, last December wasn't the first time a coronavirus made such a leap. Even before the first SARS-CoV made its appearance in 2002 in Guangdong in China, there have been a handful, according to The Economist. Secondly, is our mistreatment of planet Earth.

As the years stack up, so does the waste on planet Earth. The Washington Post, quoting World Bank researchers, says the world produces 3.5 million tons of solid waste a day, 10 times the amount a century ago.

If we do nothing now, the figure will grow to 11 million tons a day. The Earth is drowning in garbage and so are we. It needn't be so.

If the National Geographic magazine is right, between 75 and 80 per cent of all household trash is organic matter and can be composted into soil.

Such lifestyle changes are a must if we want to save the planet and the people on it. Finally, is our misdeeds against our fellow men.

"Othering" didn't begin with former United States president George W. Bush. Neither did it end with him.

Sadly, racism isn't just an American problem. It is an European and Asian mess as well. Worryingly, in some countries, "othering" is being done on the pretext of national security.

Annus mirabilis is not made thus. For the year to be good, humankind must first be good.

Published in: The New Straits Times, Monday 28 December 2020