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The war against a virus

Survival can’t be construed as a victory, as we have to change our ways to prevent such infections

As Hamlet says in second scene of Act III of the eponymous play, “Tis now the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world...”

The world today witnesses two wars — one is the alarmingly offensive war the deadly novel coronavirus wages spreading COVID-19 and killing thousands of people every day; and the other is the defensive war the nations of the world are waging against the microscopic pathogen, with their nuclear bombs and other lethal weapons ineffective in this exchange.

The world stands still in fear of the virus. The movement of humans by air, sea and land is halted. The virus has already killed thousands of people, and the death toll soars fast. Italy, Spain, France, the U.K. and the U.S. have been badly hit. Who knows when the virus will stop its killing spree.

As there are 7.8 billion people in the world, humans will, of course, survive this viral attack. But survival can’t be construed as victory. If we don’t learn precious lessons the virus is teaching us and are not ready to stop devastating the environment in the name of development, such development will only lead us to mass graves as the world faces today.

An article titled “Deforestation is leading to more infectious diseases in humans” published by National Geographic in November 2019 said: “It’s pretty well established that deforestation can be a strong driver of infectious disease transmission. The more we degrade and clear forest habitats, the more likely it is that we’re going to find ourselves in these situations where epidemics of infectious diseases occur.”

Pristine forests are repositories of fresh air and fresh water that are prerequisites for humans to exist.

As Henry David Thoreau says in his Walden: Life in the Woods: “We need the tonic of wilderness... At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us… We can never have enough of nature.”

The only panacea for epidemics, global warming and pollution that pose an existential threat for the humans is undisturbed and unsurveyed nature.

lscvsuku@gmail.com

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 12:50:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-war-against-a-virus/article31318252.ece

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