Corona – Cultural change
LA CORONA DELLA CREAZIONE – THE CROWN OF CREATION
Part 3: Corona – And now what?
2 April 2020
The spread of Covid-19 is causing drastic political measures worldwide, which also seem to be necessary. But are we learning to eliminate the actual causes or are we just tending to symptoms once more?
Let’s first take a look at the virus itself.
The "new" virus
SARS-CoV-2 is the seventh identified type of corona virus. Four of these species have been present all along at 7 to 18% in the annual flu mix and the “common” respiratory infections.(1) The other three species have a much more drastic effect on the human immune system and rapidly spread to pandemics:
• 2003: SARS-CoV (SARS = Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome),
• 2012, 2015 and 2018: Mers-CoV ( MERS = Middle East Respiratory Syndrome),
• 2019/2020: SARS-CoV-2, cause of the disease named Covid-19.
But first of all one should keep an eye on the appropriate proportions. This video – which is of course somewhat outdated by now – provides a good comparison of the courses of pandemics:(2)
It must always be kept in mind that corona viruses always act in combination with other types of viruses and that external conditions and pollution levels also play a role in diseases. Such pre-conditions adverse to health are particularly rife both in Wuhan and in Northern Italy.
The horrendous air condition (can’t call it “air quality”) in industrial China is legend. After the region was sealed off and industry and traffic stopped, blue skies reappeared over many cities.
And indeed, the air pollution rates of the Po Valley are the highest in Europe. “We breathe in poison, but no one tells us anything,” says a Milan local. Already at the end of February, air pollution in Milan has exceeded the legal limit for the whole year.(4)
Other severely affected cities such as Madrid (see satellite image) also have extremely high levels of air pollution, and as a result the inhabitants have unusually pre-stressed lungs. According to WHO, 4.2 million people worldwide die every year from air pollution.(5) A recent study led by scientists from the universities of Berkeley and Stanford estimates that Covid-19, due to the shutdown in Wuhan, has saved the lives of 1,400 children (under 5 years of age) and 51,700 people (older than 70 years of age). It states that “even under these more conservative assumptions, the lives saved due to the pollution reductions are roughly 20x the number of lives that have been directly lost to the virus.”(6)
So one of the lessons from the corona pandemic should be the urgent need for improvement of air quality in cities – a topic that leads us directly to climate protection and the low carbon society.
The other lesson for many countries would be to finally stop ruining their health sector. The high death rates in southern European countries are strongly related to the poor equipment and poor hygiene (keyword: multi-resistant germs) in hospitals.
The first response to Covid-19 is no surprise but follows the usual war narrative: to kill the “evil bug”. We are the crown of creation! The prime species on Earth, and in the whole universe! How dare nature throw something dangerous at us! But we are so intelligent, we will create a vaccine which will be an ingenious weapon. Nature is war! Just take a close look at the vocabulary of politicians in crises like this one.
The logic of the political response is therefore self-evident: No doubt that drastic measures to slow down the velocity of the spread are paramount now. Apart from medical intervention (aka mass vaccination, which has its own dangers, see Part 2 of this article), governments can use so-called NPIs, Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions.
Studies of the terrible 1918 outbreak of the Spanish flu showed that when quarantines and self-isolation are implemented at an early phase of the epidemic, the curve of the spread (aka the speed) will be less steep, and the overall death rate can be lowered to half of the worst case scenario.(7)
The benefits of self-isolation become crystal-clear in this diagram:
However, no human measure can ever truly halt the spread of a pandemic, as epidemiologist Alanna Shaikh assures us. It will take its natural course through the human population anyway, until everyone has developed immunity (or is dead). National shutdown can only spread out the number of infection cases over a longer period so that the health system is not overburdened at any one point in time.
Without NPIs, a drastic spike of severe cases would occur in April, hopelessly overburdening the hospital capacities. A dramatic death toll might strike but the pandemic would be over quicker. Self-isolation is meant to spread this out over months, so that more people who need it have chances for hospital care. The death rate will sink a lot, while the country is in lockdown.
The irony is that the more strictly we submit to self-isolation, the longer the nightmare could last, but the more people who would otherwise suffocate can be saved. As future hosts of the virus, we hide in our homes, but eventually have to come out. But half-hearted isolation will only prolong the whole thing unnecessarily. If social distancing is to be used, then it must be done properly. So the virus can fade out by eventually meeting more resistant people than potential hosts (“herd immunity”).
So while we are sitting in isolation (incredibly high penalty payments for offenses, in Italy even up to five years in prison) we can finally ask ourselves the questions that really count:
• What kind of society do we actually live in?
• What kind of society do we want to live in?
The old paradigm
We humans have always been part of nature, and we rely on nature for our very existence.
Destroying the living world (think of pollution, mass extinction, the climate crisis) inevitably creates corpses in its wake, and from the biological debris rise ever-new bugs and diseases (see Part 1 of this article).
Every human being with some common sense has always known that. But we have lived our lives in compliance with a culture whose mission statement is exactly the opposite: that we can kill, poison, shred, slash, mutilate, utilise, and exploit the natural world, with everything being subject to our whims and desires.
If an alien asked me about the true essence of our current civilization here on Earth, I would say: In all countries we believe that we are good people, we are humane, we care for each other, we obey either the god(s) of our respective culture or other moral and ethical standards. We try to live in the greatest possible wealth and luxury, and let others work for our convenience.
For this we habitually look the other way wherever our economical system causes destruction and suffering. Collectively, if you judge us by our deeds and not our beautiful words and aspirations, you’ll come to find: we prefer profit to planet, not understanding that we are sacrificing the living fabric of the Earth herself, and thereby the basis of our very existence.
This fundamental hypocrisy is only possible because of the human capacity for denial.
And the root cause of our arrogant destruction of the only living planet we know is the paradigm of anthropocentrism. This (unfortunately long) word stems from Greek anthropos, meaning the human being. It means that we put only Man in the centre of our attention, above every living thing, as if no other life form has the right to live and roam freely and follow its own nature.(7)
Anthropocentrism enslaves and abuses everything, and historically claims the undoubted right to do so by divine decree. This fundamental psychotic malfunction of the human mind can be traced back to the beginning of agriculture about 10,000 years ago.(8)
Such fundamental self-importance poisons the soul, and unsurprisingly, the all-pervading belief that the human species is superior to every other, filters down into a whole variety of cultural subsets – “we” are always better than “they”:
• men claim to be superior to women;
• one race or skin colour claims to be superior to another;
• “civilised” countries claim to be superior to “primitive” (tribal) cultures;
• heteros claim to be superior to LGBTQ+;
• bodies “conforming to standards” are considered to be more valuable than handicapped bodies;
• etc., etc., etc.
Fascism, colonialism, the “cultural wars” (“gender war”, racism, etc.), will not be overcome as long as they have their firm base in the core belief of anthropocentrism:
• human claims to be superior to all other life on Earth.
This belief comes with two central “creation myths” which are permanently repeated in mainstream media and government communications:
1) the emphasis on separation and competition, and with it the illusion that there can be shadow without light, growth without decomposition, yang without yin;
2) the mantra that “everything in nature is war”, that constantly “we are at war” with something or other. A gross perversion of Darwinian evolution theory has helped tremendously to boost this old narrative: “The survival of the fittest” is pure social Darwinism, and has little to do with nature.
Therein the old paradigm finds reason to perpetually fight nature. Modern medicine instead of fighting “evil bugs” should focus on healing and on keeping humans and nature healthy. And modern industrial farming should not obsess over killing “evil weeds” but devote itself to caring for the soil and working in harmony with nature.
Now, the wartime of antibiotics and pesticides is coming to an end. The Earth can take no more.
The future Earth will be pure and healthy again.
Can we find the will, the ethics, and the politics to be part of that beautiful future?
1. RH Macgregor Price, C Graham & S Ramalingam 2019. Association between viral seasonality and meteorological factors. Scientific Reports volume 9, Article number: 929 (2019). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-37481-y
2. Video “How does Coronavirus compare to Ebola, SARS, etc?” YouTube, Feb 12, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dDD2tHWWnU&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2oFJTc9yaknJ9wLtqtyvk-eoWcbskzKguJiHFQoEvdmcDTcVRO-cZpE8U
3. Coronavirus: Nasa images show China pollution clear amid slowdown. bbc.co.uk, 29 February 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-51691967
4. Céline Cornu 2019. ‘We breathe in poison’: Why the Po Valley is one of the most polluted places in Italy. thelocal.it, 28 February 2019. https://www.thelocal.it/20190228/po-valley-air-pollution-italy
5. WHO 2020. Air Pollution. Accessed 31 March 2020. https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1
6. Maximilian Auffhammer, Marshall Burke et al. 2020. COVID-19 reduces economic activity, which reduces pollution, which saves lives. G-Feed, March 8, 2020. https://www.g-feed.com/2020/03/covid-19-reduces-economic-activity.html
Damian Carrington 2020. Air pollution linked to far higher Covid-19 death rates, study finds. theguardian.com, 7 Apr 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/07/air-pollution-linked-to-far-higher-covid-19-death-rates-study-finds
7. Richard J. Hatchett, et al. 2007. Public health interventions and epidemic intensity during the 1918 influenza pandemic. PNAS, vol. 104, no. 18, 7582–7587. www.pnas.org_cgi_doi_10.1073_pnas.0610941104
8. Fred Hageneder 2020. Healthy Planet. Soon to be published book manuscript. ch 16.
Fear is not beneficial to the immune system. How do we stay healthy?
Are the drastic political measures justified? Is it all about symptom cure again?
Das Buch HAPPY PLANET
Jetzt handeln für eine glückliche Erde
Alle Antworten auf die brennendsten Fragen unserer Zeit, kompromisslos, umfassend und leicht verständlich.
Die “Funktionsweise” unseres Planeten.
Klima und Feedbacksysteme.
Die Störung der globalen Lebenssysteme.
Angst + Leugnung.