The appearance of a virulent version of an ordinary respiratory virus, the corona virus, has the world panicking as the media blazed out their prejudices about China.

Suddenly, the Western countries are scrambling to close their borders, ignoring the fact that the influenza virus in this part of the world had killed more people than the current coronavirus.

The coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, follows on the heels of previous deadly breakouts of new or altered versions of viruses that spread quickly and fatally like SARS, MERS, H1N1, Ebola, Zika etc. In my mind, the beginning of this run was the AIDS virus, a different version of an old agent. Do not forget that the U.S. government then chose to ignore research for a treatment of the AIDS virus, which killed many young people, until the public took to the streets and jammed the lawmakers’ offices.

Another fact is that diseases that were thought to have been eliminated like smallpox, malaria and TB reappeared in more resistant forms, making them harder to treat.

I associate these events with the capitalist relentless drive for profits causing this climate emergency. Deforestation for agribusiness deprived many animals, insects and birds of their homes and upset countless fragile ecosystems. Ancient forests are cut down to make way for palm oil or wood pellets, etc.

The intense cultivation of farmed lands enable toxic pesticides and deadly fertilizers to saturate the soil and kill many friendly species of organisms that had kept the soil in healthy balance. Meanwhile, tons of antibiotics are used indiscriminately in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) resulting in the e.Coli turning deadly and creating other more antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Factory effluents from pharmaceutical and chemical production companies run into drinking water sources, here and in developing countries, threatening the health of surrounding populations.

Meanwhile, to shorten the growth cycle or to increase resistances of the animals and food crops, there is a mad scramble to genetically alter them. These genetically modified organisms are then sold to us as food. No doubt much research had also gone into making deadlier versions of organisms for germ warfare.

Can anybody not see what a perfect storm capitalism has created? Now we are reaping the results of such activities. Whether you believe it or not, humanity is facing an extinction event, coupled with catastrophic storms, wildfires, rising sea levels and desertification. Time to step up and fight.

Dr. Kim E. Koo

Rocky Mount