Today is known as ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand. In 1915 – 1919, the Australia New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) lost 8,709 lives at Gallipoli, and 61,522 lives over the course of the First World War.  In the face of death and terrible odds, the story of the ANZAC spirit, a story about faith in action and unimaginable feats of bravery, speaks strongly to the present and in a very powerful way. We are in the midst of a struggle, which has resulted from humanity’s degradation of the environment, and extractive economics. At Earthbanc, we take some time to reflect on the past, present and future.
The world continues to experience unfathomable crises, the impacts are felt by every human on the planet in one way or another. The current global epidemic has resulted in over 2.8 million people being infected from Covid-19 and over 197,000 deaths. The desert locust plagues sweeping across nine countries in East Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent and are putting millions at risk of food insecurity. A swarm can eat enough food to feed 34 million people in just one day.
Today, I reflect on the Spirit of the ANZACs, and how comradeship, courage and sacrifice today can lead to a better future. ANZAC day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all those who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations and the contribution and suffering of all those who have served. The Spirit of the ANZACs was born on 25 April 1915, in Gallipoli. The Anzacs landed on the Gallipoli peninsula and met fierce resistance. The war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months before allied forces were evacuated. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships.
Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the legend of the Anzacs rose, leaving us with a powerful legacy. Today, we celebrate the character that arose from superhuman strength, determination, a zest, a drive for life & freedom.
So what will be our legacy for tomorrow? Our human relationships with our environment, the plants and animals over hundreds of million of years, are still as complex & interdependent as ever. From food insecurity resulting from the Locust plagues, to disease epidemics of covid-19, today’s challenges of hunger & disease are interlinked with our interaction with our environment. We need superhuman strength, determination & action now more than ever, to ensure we survive and thrive in the future.
The devastating effects of conflict includings those resulting from our ever changing environment, resulting in heavy casualties and great hardships for all. Millions are at risk of food insecurity, as the desert locust plagues enjoy ideal breeding conditions, a result of two cyclones five months apart in 2018 and further rain last year. These locusts have eaten their way through more than 170,000 hectares of crops in East Africa alone.
Widespread breeding is in progress and new swarms are starting to form, representing an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods of millions of the most vulnerable to climate change. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicted the worst was still to come, and that by June, the size of the swarms could grow by a factor of 500.
These insects do not respect borders, and they do not respect crops. A locust outbreak if not put out early, will spread until it runs out of fuel—the food that subsistence farmers across Africa rely on to survive. A similar scenario, a virus that does not respect borders and affects everyone, the coronavirus pandemic that is exploding across the world. Coronaviruses are a global phenomenon, with COVID-19 having devastating effects on millions of people worldwide.
Recent outbreaks like SARS and Ebola, and now Covid-19 are deadly human pandemic viruses that spilled over from wildlife to humans. So why are zoonotic disease outbreaks becoming more frequent? One reason being the increasing contact between people and wildlife, possibly human contact via a live animal market that trades in wildlife.
The outbreak of infectious viruses and other pathogens have been associated with disruptions to habitats and climates caused by human activity in farming, transportation, mining and others. As humans alter the landscape through habitat loss, forest fragments act as islands, and the wildlife hosts disease-causing microbes that live within them undergo rapid diversification. The increasing contact between people and wildlife increases the probability that they may spill over into human populations, leading to outbreaks.
It may be too early to tell. To respond to the current epidemic, people worldwide need to work together. Humans and nature are interconnected. Nature provides the food, medicine, water, clean air and many other benefits that people need to survive & thrive. So when Covid-19 passes, what are our actions for climate change and the environment?
2020 marks the end date of a raft of corporate sustainability goals, the end of Kyoto, and the start of the Paris Agreement. Businesses & Governments are falling short of what needs to be achieved. With record temperatures, habitat & biodiversity lost in the Australian bushfires, the current locust plagues of Africa affecting food security and now Covid-19 virus epidemic – this is not the new normal we want to see in the world.
As Governments, Central Banks, the World Bank and the IMF discuss the national COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Packages, it is critical that the economic growth strategy is built on sustainable sectors of the future and creates equality and access for all.
How we define our relationship with the environment starts now. We need to work together, have courage and make sacrifices today, so we have a better future. We do not need to wait for Government & Businesses to take action.
Consider how you consume, save & invest towards a more sustainable future. I’ll be exploring these topics in future articles and look forward to your feedback.
Chau Tang-Duncan is the COO of Earthbanc, a Green Digital Banking & Investment Platform™ working towards planetary regeneration powered by the people. https://earthbanc.io/