Last May our lead article in SEI Reports was on the etiology of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was a modest attempt to counter the almost complete lack of discussion in the media as to what had brought on the disaster. Beyond an initial discussion of Chinese wet markets, there was an almost no mention in the US media of the larger picture. What was it that was causing the outbreaks of repeated epidemics in recent decades? What had led to this extrordinary turn of events? Almost a year later, with 2.7 million dead worldwide, 548,000 in the US alone, the situation is hardly any better. You see very little written in the American mainstream press about what caused Covid to emerge, and even less about what steps should be taken to prevent another pandemic.
Recently, however, Thomas Friedman in the New York Times wrote a piece condemning the world’s failure to take steps to prevent a new pandemic from emerging. He says we need to do three things right away: stop eating wildlife, stop the international wildlife supply chains, and halt deforestation. If the first task falls primarily on China and other East Asian countries, the second two are the responsibility of all of us, but most especially large corporations:
If multinational companies can still undertake large-scale logging or mining in the world’s remaining great forests without paying for the very real risks those activities bring upon all of us, we will get what we deserve. But if companies actually had to pay for the pandemic risks associated with these extractive activities, perhaps some of these projects would not be undertaken at all.
For a bracing reminder of the risk we face, read the whole article: