Goodall believes that the emergence of COVID-19 was the result of human actions, namely ones that destroy natural habitats and endanger the lives of other species. She points to over-foresting, careless exploitation of the natural world, and intensive farming as culprits in the emergence of the virus. These actions and conditions have made it possible for animal diseases to easily jump to humans. The novel coronavirus is thought to have been transmitted to humans at a wet market in Wuhan, China.
The chimpanzee expert spoke about her concerns on Tuesday at an online event held by the campaigning group Compassion in World Farming.
“We have brought this on ourselves because of our absolute disrespect for animals and the environment. Our disrespect for wild animals and our disrespect for farmed animals has created this situation where disease can spill over to infect human beings.”
The conservation activist warned that we have come to a crossroads regarding our relationship with the natural world. She urged that those with the financial means put pressure on governments and leaders to avoid adding to the problem. She added that we have to stop buying products that base their success on factory farming and exploitation of the natural world.
“We have come to a turning point in our relationship with the natural world. One of the lessons learnt from this crisis is that we must change our ways. Scientists warn that to avoid future crises, we must drastically change our diets and move to plant-rich foods. For the sake of the animals, planet and the health of our children.”
“If we do not do things differently, we are finished,” Goodall warned, adding that there is only a small window of time left to act and that humans cannot go on much longer without changing the status quo.
One of the most urgent issues in Goodall’s eyes is the reliance on factory farming for food. She spoke about factory farming being linked to the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, disease and climate breakdown. Goodall also called for people to be lifted out of poverty, stating that when people are desperate for food, they turn to cutting down forests to survive and choose the cheapest food available, regardless of how it is produced.
Goodall is not the only activist concerned with the link between the novel coronavirus and the destruction of the natural world. Conservation groups all over the planet are calling for an end to animal exploitation, as well as a global wildlife trade ban, sustainable agricultural practices, and increased safety standards for food and those who work in the industry.