Dear PIC members and followers:

Like someone on the west coast feeling the first tremors of an earthquake, many PICers might be wondering, as am I, if Covid-19 is “the big one.”

Scientists have long warned that human incursions into wildlife habitats and other close contact with wild animals, such as from bushmeat hunting or the infamous Chinese “wet markets,” could expose us to dangerous new viruses.

Viruses that are endemic and relatively innocuous in one species (such as those responsible for the common cold in humans) can wreak havoc when transmitted to a previously unexposed species (such as the SARS virus that probably originated in bats, which in the 2003 epidemic caused 44 deaths in the Toronto area and 774 worldwide).

The coronavirus currently causing the disease known as Covid-19 is, in fact, a variant of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus. Its official name is SARS-CoV-2 (or second SARS coronavirus). Dense populations provide viruses with a ready supply of new hosts so rapid population growth, increasing penetration into previously undisturbed habitat and global travel are creating ideal conditions for the spread of new and potentially dangerous viruses.  And, as Bill Gates warned in 2015, we are not prepared for a pandemic.

Informed opinions are not in agreement about how dangerous the new coronavirus is to the general population, whether the authorities are overreacting, and whether the loss of employment and the suffering of ordinary workers as economies contract around the world is causing more harm than good.

For example, this physician on the front lines in a Los Angeles hospital does not support the shutdowns implemented in the US and many other countries, including Canada. But the fact of the matter is that authorities have to make decisions while they don’t — and can’t possibly have — complete information; it’s only in hindsight that we will more fully understand what is actually happening now.

And only the future will tell us if our leaders learned there really cannot be infinite growth on a finite planet or if it will simply be back to business as usual when the pandemic subsides — whether that takes three months or three years.

John Meyer, the director of Canadians for a Sustainable Society, expresses the optimistic view that the pandemic could lead to a more viable world. As he points out, it was the blind pursuit of growth that made us much more vulnerable and unprepared than we otherwise would have been. As we unconsciously move off the globalist path, he predicts, the changes in our priorities can be the basis for greater preparedness to handle the challenges ahead. I sincerely hope John is right!

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to cast its pall around the world in the springtime of 2020 and who knows how far beyond, we at PIC will continue our work informing people about population issues and promoting effective, ethical actions to curb our numbers and our impact on the planet. While we’re discontinuing physical encounters, such as Board meetings, as long as stay-at-home directives are in place, we’ll continue to send out news releases and newsletters as before.

If Covid-19 should indeed turn out to be “the big one,” let us hope it brings some good — and the recognition by political, economic and religious leaders in Canada and around the world that human well-being depends on a healthy environment, which cannot be achieved under the paradigm of perpetual growth.

Best wishes for health and strength from all of us at PIC.

Madeline Weld

Contact: Madeline Weld, Ph.D.
President, Population Institute Canada
Tel: (613) 833-3668
Email: [email protected]