COVID-19 Birthing the Chrysalis Phase for Humanity

January 3, 2021

Summarized By – Rajashree Kallapur

At first glance, it may seem like we as human beings are a great misfit in the natural ecosystem, but this is not completely true. A talk by Dr. Shailesh Rao shows us that while the entire system today is completely consumer-driven, it is indeed possible to engineer this system in a way that lies in tandem with the ecosystem’s natural cycle. This elaborate restructuring needs collective and simultaneous individual effort, but the result of such an effort could possibly mean warding of the fatality of diseases like the COVID-19, among other things.

For the past few decades, topics like Global Warming and Climate Change are occupying the forefront in international dialogue. Human beings most definitely are a cause of these worldwide catastrophes, but it is precisely this understanding that can lead us to our role in the ecosystem, that is, regulating the climate. How can we do that? By engineering the food system. Dr. Shailesh mentions that climate change is a public health crisis caused by food system. Currently, the food systems work on imbalances. Firstly, the input-output structure is imbalanced. We don’t lack food. We are just victims and culprits of a system that outputs much lesser than the overproduced food that is its input. Next, the system is imbalanced in its distributive selectivity. Our food system is adapted to give access to exotic food to the rich, (and of course, less access to food for the poor), causing nutrient deficiencies. These render us incapable of fighting the fatal aspects of diseases like COVID-19.

As individuals, we may seem small in our efforts to redesign this system, but there is one thing that we can do to upset the system: turn vegan. How does that help? Till date, the existing food system has evolved to snatch away food from wild animals, and deflect this towards farm animals, on whom we rely for meat, among other animal-based products. This is not only the cause of the imbalanced input-output structure, but also biodiversity loss. By turning vegan, since the demand for the type of output changes, we invariably engineer the system towards more sustainability. In this, we decrease the stress on animals. Importantly, Dr. Shailesh mentions, stressed animals stress the animal-human interface and thus cause diseases like COVID-19.

As collective entities, we can engineer the system by looking at doughnut economics. We stay in the doughnut that is a sweet spot for humanity to remain in. We need some social resources at minimum, which we fulfil, but not cross the environment ceiling, after which lies climate destruction. In this, we can successfully design an ecological civilization that is most importantly sustainable.

(This Summary is based on the talk given by Dr. Shailesh Rao, Founder of Climate Healers, during the 7th Quarterly Meeting of the EHAC on the 5th of Dec’20)

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