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Dr. Jane Goodall, Sir David Attenborough: They Warned Us


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They’re ambassadors for the planet, 93-year old Sir David Attenborough and 86-year old Dr. Jane Goodall. They’ve dedicated their lives to warn us. Unfortunately, the human species has not heeded their wise words.

While it remains unclear if this virus known as the novel corona virus “escaped” a nearby lab in Wuhan, China or mutated at the wet market (just across the street from the lab), there’s little doubt the market likely played a role. Animals of a wide range of species are kept not only inhumanly and slaughtered in unsanitary conditions; of course, disease transmission is likely (such as salmonella to new viruses).

It was only luck that the first SARS (Sudden Associated Respiratory Syndrome) CoV-1 dead-ended in 2003, still 774 people died from 26 nations. Thus far, this newer SARS CoV-2 which causes COVID-19 has had a far greater impact,  195,387 have succumbed (a number all experts agree is far lower than reality) as of April 25, 2020, impacting nearly every nation on the planet.

In this relaxed nearly 30 minute sit down conversation with Dr. Goodall, my wide ranging conversation with her didn’t include pandemics – but we did talk about what ultimately causes such problems, the health of our planet, climate change, and even her love of dogs – as well as how she has so many global leaders are increasingly on board with her messaging, until I questioned her about President Donald Trump.

In this recent (just as the novel corona virus was identified) interview with the BBC Attenborough sounds an alarm, which I am afraid not enough people are hearing. He’s been proven correct about how nature and our planet’s health can bounce back if given a chance – as we’ve already seen results of nature rebounding because humans are lurking in the shadows, not polluting as much, not invading the wild.

Leadership in the UK is a prime example, as Princes Harry and William and for many years Prince Charles have ardently supported wildlife conservation, as has Queen Elizabeth herself. In the U.S. the sons of our President revel in their enjoyment of big game hunting, while the President has supported gutting laws that protect the environment. This isn’t a point to be political – it is only the truth. If humans think that they are so superior that they can do whatever they desire without consequences, hopefully this pandemic proves those wrong.

But then (and mostly this is a problem relegated to the U.S.), a surprising number of people remain convinced that climate change isn’t real – despite scientific evidence, even from outer space. Or they concede that climate change is real but humans are not (mostly) responsible. Or that, if humans are responsible, the consequences are minimal. It’s difficult for me to comprehend how people can be so entrenched in their belief and how they believe anyone who disagrees with them from Goodall to Greta Thunberg, a teenage activist from Sweden, might be a part of the liberal left. President Trump once tweeted that the teenage activist is a “hoax” and also said she has “anger management issues.”(Later, he did refer to her as “a nice girl.”)

Goodall has been warning for decades regarding the so-called wet markets. The data regarding deaths from COVID-19 in this video a low because of when the video was made, but here is an excellent description of the wet markets in China and political realities.

Although Beijing officially banned the country’s wildlife trade in February, it has resisted closing the wet markets, which are vital to meeting the day-to-day needs of most Chinese. The government’s state-controlled media have even run stories recently touting the markets’ cleanliness. And regarding the wildlife trade, most are skeptical, at best, that the ban is real. For example, Pangolin (a distant relative of the anteater) is one of the most endangered species on the planet, and continues – even now – to be illegally smuggled into China. Some continue to the animal’s scales prepared in soup have medicinal value. The Pangolin scales of merely made of keratin, same as our finger nails. And what’s astounding is that it could be that the Malayan Pangolin might have been an intermediary species which allowed what is now a human corona (SARS CoV-2) virus to mutate from a bat species ultimately to humans. If the Chinese didn’t allow the wet markets, and didn’t allow the wildlife trade, likely none of this may have occurred. Other nations all for illegal wildlife trade and identical markets, it’s not only China – and both must stop. However, China has demonstrated the will to do so, not yet anyway.

Here’s Dr. Goodall speaking with Jimmy Fallon on Earth Day

I pray we will listen to the sage advice of Dr. Goodall and Sir Attenborough while they are here to tell us. So far, we have not listened.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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