Jane Goodall says global disregard for nature brought on coronavirus pandemic


Renowned conservationist and activist Dr Jane Goodall is hoping the coronavirus pandemic will be a wake-up call, warning the crisis is a result of human disregard for nature and animals

By Kirsten Diprose and Matt Neal

Dame Jane Goodall
PHOTO: Dr Goodall says people need to think differently about the environment in order to avoid pandemics. (Australian Story, file photo)

Key points:

  • Dr Jane Goodall, marking 60 years of field research and discovering that chimpanzees make and use tools, says animal habitat loss and intensive farming are part of the viruses jumping species
  • She says as forests disappear, animals come in closer contact with each other and humans
  • Dr Goodall equates the human disregard for nature as also the root cause of climate change

Dr Goodall said we should have known a pandemic-like coronavirus was coming because other viruses, such as SARS and HIV, also jumped the species barrier from animals.

Both SARS and COVID-19 are types of coronavirus and have been traced to live animal markets, or wet markets, in China.

But Dr Goodall said the loss of animal habitats and intensive farming are part of the problem, making it easier for viruses to spread from one animal to another and then to humans.

“We have to learn to think differently about how we interact with the natural world,” she said.

“And one of the problems is that as more and more forests have disappeared, so animals themselves have come in closer contact with each other.

A bat flying mid-air, ready to land on a tree branch.
Various species of bats are reservoirs for viral diseases such as coronaviruses and Hendra.
iStockphoto: CraigRJD

“Most of these viruses that jumped to us have come through an intermediary. So there’s a reservoir host like a bat and in [the case of COVID-19] it’s thought to have jumped into a pangolin and then into us.”

Not just wet markets

Dr Andrew Peters, an associate professor in wildlife health and pathology at Charles Sturt University, backs Dr Goodall’s assertions that human interference with animal habitats is a concern when it comes to diseases.

“There’s going to be intense focus on the wet markets in China as a focus for human spill-over of viruses from wildlife, and that’s rightfully so,”

A photo of a man sitting in front of a microscope.
Dr Peters said.PHOTO: Dr Andrew Peters says human impacts on the natural environment are a factor in viruses crossing from animals to humans. (Supplied: Shane Raidal/Charles Sturt University)

“But the thing we mustn’t lose sight of is there are a whole lot of other things we do in the natural environment that can lead to these kinds of spill-overs occurring.

“In Australia we’ve seen a number of emerging infectious diseases, including Hendra virus, which is obviously a very well known and deadly virus that infects horses and humans from bats.

“The causes of that are thought to be deforestation on the coastal plain of Australia and the pressure that puts on bat populations as they move down to the coast in winter.”

Dr Peters said humans need to reconsider their relationship with the natural world, and the impact we’re having on animals.

“The majority of human new emerging infectious diseases come from wildlife,” he said.

Six decades with the chimps

A baby chimpanzee with its mouth open
PHOTO: A baby chimp born at Monarto Zoo, which was named Hope by Dr Goodall. (Facebook: Monarto Zoo)

Dr Goodall is marking 60 years since she first entered the jungles of Tanzania at the age of 26, to study chimpanzees.

It was her unorthodox approach of immersing herself in their habitat that led to the discovery in 1960 that chimpanzees make and use tools.

The 86-year-old is also concerned the global chimpanzee population could become infected with COVID-19.

Coronavirus questions answered

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast podcast

“The genetic makeup between humans and chimps differ by only just over one per cent,” she said.

“So almost certainly if the infected humans are anywhere near the chimps they are liable to catch it.”

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York reportedly tested positive to COVID-19 earlier this month, suspected to have been infected by a zoo employee.

This is the first known instance of a tiger contracting the new coronavirus.

“We at the Jane Goodall Institute are taking very, very drastic measures to try and protect the chimpanzees in our two sanctuaries in Africa and the wild chimps which is, of course, much harder,” she said.

‘Treating climate change like a pandemic’

Dr Goodall said it is the same disregard shown by humans towards nature that is also the root cause of climate change.

“The way we have treated the planet with our reckless burning of fossil fuel and coal mines — you know all about that in Australia, and how it is heating up the planet,” Dr Goodall said.

“You have certainly suffered from the terrible fires and that’s because the planet is getting hotter and drier, the droughts are getting longer, and it’s all we have done to the natural world.”

Dr Jane Goodall pets a Kangaroo at Perth Zoo.
PHOTO: Primatologist Dr Jane Goodall at the Perth Zoo with one of the locals. (ABC News: Briana Shepherd)

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

She said the global community should have been treating climate change long ago as if it was a pandemic “because it’s actually far more devastating in terms of loss of life and people being driven from countries simply because the habitat is so inhospitable”.

“So why haven’t we been? Why haven’t we been treating climate change as the disaster it is?” Dr Goodall said.

“You only have to look around at some of the political leaders in different countries to understand why. Because people don’t want to think about making the changes necessary because it would impact their success in business.”

But Dr Goodall said there is reason to hope with the way leaders and communities are working together to fight coronavirus — evidence of what humanity is capable of.

“Maybe it has taken something like this COVID-19 to wake us up and realise you can’t eat money,” she said.

“If we go on destroying nature in this way, go on disrespecting the other beings whom we share this planet, it’s a downward trajectory.

“So hopefully this [coronavirus response], which is affecting the whole world, will give us the jolt we seem to need to start behaving and thinking in a different way”.

A new documentary Jane Goodall: The Hope, based on Dr Goodall’s long career, will be released April 22 by National Geographic to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

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Calls to seal off ultra-Orthodox areas add to Israel’s virus tensions


Purposely ignorant, fundamentalist religions, continue to spread disease and death throughout the word.

Rules enforcement highlights problem of getting message across to minority community

Oliver Holmes and Quique Kierszenbaum in Jerusalem

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish family in Bnei Brak.
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish family in Bnei Brak, which Israel has now declared a restricted zone. Photograph: Amir Cohen/Reuters

It wasn’t a typical police operation. Two Israeli officers were to go undercover, although not posing as drug dealers or arms traffickers. For this particular assignment, they were to disguise themselves as ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Their mission on Friday was to bust an illegal gathering in a synagogue. People were praying together, a practice that is now against the law in the era of the coronavirus. Once the officers got inside to confirm the crowd, more units barged in and dispersed people.

Forces left the area, according to police, but: “An hour later, it was reported that people had returned again.” At that point, officers handed out fines amounting to nearly £4,000.

The operation in the county’s north was one small part of a sometimes fruitless nationwide effort to impose Covid-19 restrictions on a deeply religious and often cut-off community that has been slow, or even opposed, to change their way of life.

Israeli soldiers deliver food to residents in Bnei Brak.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Israeli soldiers deliver food to residents in Bnei Brak. Photograph: Amir Cohen/Reuters

Officials fear the result has been an explosion of cases in neighbourhoods populated with the minority, which makes up more than 12% of Israel’s nine million citizens.

In the most extreme case, an entire city, Bnei Brak, has been surrounded with barricades. Israel’s cabinet declared the city a “restricted zone” last week, sending in 1,000 police officers who blocked residents from leaving except under special circumstances. The army has also be deployed to deliver food to the elderly.

One medical expert estimated up to 38% of Bnei Brak’s roughly 200,000 mostly ultra-Orthodox inhabitants could be infected, significantly higher than the national average.

Many Israeli ultra-Orthodox live in poor, often congested areas with large families where infections can spread rapidly. Some religious leaders have refused to order their people to stay inside long after the rest of the country was locking down.

When a population are told the Torah will protect them there is no motivation to comply with orders Jessica Apple, Haaretz

Chaim Kanievsky, an influential rabbi, had initially refused to close packed synagogues and religious seminaries, where hundreds of boys and men gather daily. “The Torah protects and saves,” the 92-year-old said. Only in late March did the rabbi relent, calling for lone prayer.

There have also been several anecdotal reports that ultra-Orthodox communities in other countries, including the UK, are suffering an above-average infection rate.

In Israel, the outbreaks have deepened entrenched grievances between secular and religious populations that have festered since the state’s founding.

Ultra-Orthodox Israelis, known in Hebrew as Haredim, or “God-fearers”, occupy a unique role, with laws allowing them to avoid military draft and live off stipends while they study religion, leading to secular resentment.

Jewish leaders fear ultra-Orthodox Jews have missed isolation message

Many abhor Israel’s interference in their traditions. Some are vehemently anti-Zionist, rejecting the country whose Jewish majority is mostly secular, which has frustrated government coronavirus efforts when public trust and obedience are vital.

Attempts by police to enforce quarantine restrictions in religious neighbourhoods of Jerusalem have led to sometimes violent standoffs. Paramedics have been hit with rocks.

“When a population that regards its religious leaders as infallible are told that the Torah will protect them and that the secular law enforcement agencies are Nazis and anti-Semites, there is no motivation to comply with orders,” wrote Jessica Apple in the progressive local Haaretz newspaper; her article also called for ultra-Orthodox jews to wear face masks.

Now the cabinet is discussing using the Bnei Brak lockdown as a model for other outbreaks, and local media have cited an unnamed health official as saying more ultra-Orthodox areas could also be sealed off.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish burial society workers with a coronavirus victim outside the Shamgar funeral house in Jerusalem.
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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish burial society workers with a coronavirus victim outside the Shamgar funeral house in Jerusalem. Photograph: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalemite who used to take part in anti-government demonstrations, said some rabbis took a “long time to internalise the severity of the situation … and they truly believe that studying Torah is more important than anything else.”

However, he said the government was also slow to communicate with more radical parts of the community, many of whom have no internet, television, radio, smartphones or even newspapers and usually get news from posters stuck to noticeboards.

Meshi-Zahav, who runs a volunteer emergency medicine group that has been helping coordinate the Covid-19 response, has written posters on the rules. Still, he added: “It is not our job, it should be the Ministry of Health’s responsibility.”

He said he was concerned about growing anger. “In normal times, there are discussions on this, but now the seculars are saying, ‘you are infecting us’. This is terrible, there is a lot of antisemitism around the world, and now the seculars are doing this?”

“There are things they say that are correct, but to accuse a whole community? To generalise? Some people are using the situation to attack the Haredim.”

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man kisses the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem’s Old City Marko Djurica/ File Photo

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Religion Continues at Forefront in The Spread of Pandemic


Messiah Will Come by Passover, Says Israel Health Minister

“I am sure Messiah will come by Passover and save us the same way God saved us during the Exodus”

Via Israel Today Staff

Only the Messiah can save Israel from coronavirus, says Health Minister.
Flash90

Israel Health Ministry Yaakov Litzman has been criticized for what many call his unprofessional handling of the coronavirus crisis. But in a recent interview, he suggested that while he takes the situation seriously, he’s waiting on a more divine brand of deliverance.

One of the early sticking points in the current unity coalition negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz was the latter’s insistence that someone other than Litzman serve as Minister of Health in the next government.

Litzman insisted that his United Torah Judaism faction and its seven seats would remain in the coalition only if he retaied his current post, and Gantz on Sunday reportedly acquiesced.

That sorely disappointed health care professionals in Israel. Earlier in the day, Channel 12 News reported that the heads of hospital departments across the country had petitioned Netanyahu to install a Minister of Health with an actual medical background.

Earlier this month, Litzman was asked in an interview with Chamal News if the current restrictions on the Israeli population will last until after the Passover holiday, set to begin the evening of April 8, next Wednesday.

Israel’s Minister of Health responded:

“God forbid! We are praying and hoping that Messiah will arrive before Passover as it is a time of our redemption. I am sure that the Messiah will come by Passover and save us the same way God saved us during the Exodus and we were freed. The Moshiach will come and save us all.”

[Yaakov Litzman is also the depraved the pervert that perverted the course of justice and pressured employees in his department to prevent extradition of sex abuser Malka Leifer to face 74 counts of child sex abuse in Australia. Police recommended that Litzman be indicted for bribery, fraud, witness tampering and breach of trust.]

For more reactions to Litzman’s faith-based approach, see: 
Bible-Believing Health Minister Makes Israelis Fume

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Trump Uses Coronavirus Press Conference to Confirm He’s an Actual Sociopath


Even with everything we know about the guy, the moment was still chilling.

By Bess Levin

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference in the briefing room of the White...
By Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Over the past three years, many terms have been thrown around to describe Donald Trump. Phrases like “huge moron,” “colossal jerk,” “massive prick,” and, our personal favorite, “malignant tumor.”

Obviously many have agreed that the 45th president of the United States is both a terrible person and an idiot incapable of tweeting a coherent sentence, let alone running the country. Still, some have worried it would be taking things too far to diagnose the man as a full-blown sociopath. Are we being too cavalier with the designation, they’ve likely fretted. Shouldn’t we wait until the Mar-a-Lago groundskeepers find a few dozen heads in the basement, they’ve probably wondered. On Friday, however, Trump confirmed for all the world to see that he indeed has no conscience.

During a press conference at the White House, NBC reporter Peter Alexander asked Trump, “What do you say to the Americans who are scared, though? Nearly 200 dead, 14,000 who are sick, millions, as you’ve witnessed, who are scared right now. What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?” In reality this was a softball question that anyone with a semblance of a soul would be able to answer, responding with something like, “That’s an understandable feeling. I would tell them we’re in this together and we’re doing everything we can, as fast as we can.” But Trump literally only thinks about himself, so instead he told Alexander: “I say that you’re a terrible reporter. That’s what I say. I think it’s a very nasty question, and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people. The American people are looking for answers and they’re looking for hope, and you’re doing sensationalism and the same with NBC and con-cast. I don’t call it Comcast, I call it ‘con-cast.’ Let me just tell you something. That’s really bad reporting, and you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism.” Seemingly responding to criticism that he’d irresponsibly hyped the drug chloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, despite the fact that it hasn’t yet been approved by the FDA for the virus, Trump snarled, “Let’s see if it works. It might and it might not. I happen to feel good about it, but who knows. I’ve been right a lot.”

Caroline Orr @RVAwonk : Peter Alexander was trying to get the president of the United States to address the fears Americans have about #coronavirus. His attack on Peter is absolutely shameful and hard to watch — but realize that he attacked Peter so he could avoid answering to you.

As many have noted, employees at NBC, where Alexander works, lost a colleague to the virus today, but obviously it shouldn’t take such an event for the president to muster up or even fake some empathy for people who are terrified about a fast-moving pandemic. Later, given the opportunity to prove to the American people that he’s not a total monster, Trump declined:

Kyle Griffin @kylegriffin1

CNN’s Kaitlin Collins follows up: “Do you really think going off on Peter, going off on a network is appropriate when the country’s going through something like this?”
Trump responds: “I do.”

https://twitter.com/kylegriffin1/status/1241042158569676800 … Kyle Griffin @kylegriffin1

NBC’s Peter Alexander: “What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?”

Trump: “I say you’re a terrible reporter.”

As did his merry band of sycophants, who would apparently rather kiss the ring than calm the nation during an unprecedented, petrifying time:

Rebecca Ballhaus @rebeccaballhaus

After Pompeo asks Americans to rely only on trusted sources of information, @colvinj asks him: “Does it undermine you at all when the president stands up here and he attacks news outlets, calling us untrustworthy?”

Pompeo: “Somebody else have a question?”

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Missouri Sues Televangelist Jim Bakker For Selling Fake Coronavirus Cure


Televangelist Jim Bakker, shown here in 2018, faces a legal challenge from the state of Missouri for selling a false remedy against the coronavirus. The COVID-19 disease currently has no cure.
Matthew S. Schwartz 2018 square
Matthew S. Schwartz
Snake-oil salesman and religious conman, Jim Bakker

Televangelist Jim Bakker, shown here in 2018, faces a legal challenge from the state of Missouri for selling a false remedy against the coronavirus. The COVID-19 disease currently has no cure. Chuck Burton/AP

Televangelist Jim Bakker held up a blue and silver bottle, gazing intently at the label, as he questioned the woman sitting next to him.

“This influenza that is now circling the globe,” Bakker said on the Feb. 12 broadcast of The Jim Bakker Show, “you’re saying that Silver Solution would be effective.”

His guest, the so-called “natural health expert” Sherrill Sellman, falsely implied that the liquid would likely be effective. The coronavirus impacting more than 120,000 people worldwide does not yet have a known treatment or cure.

“Well, let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it has been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours,” Sellman said. “Totally eliminate it. Kills it. Deactivates it.”

Silver Solution “has been proven by the government that it has the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on, including SARS and HIV,” Sellman continued. Four 4-ounce bottles could be yours,a message on the screen said, for just $80.

Selling a fake “treatment” for the COVID-19 disease violates state and federal law. On Tuesday, the state of Missouri filed a lawsuit against Bakker and his production company to stop them from advertising or selling Silver Solution and related products as treatments for the coronavirus.

Swindler Jim Bakker’s previous frauds and scams landed him in jail.

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‘He’s gonna get us all killed’: sense of unease after Trump coronavirus speech


The president began his speech as many leaders do, then reverted to his familiar nationalism and threw in a bit of campaigning

David Smith in Washington @smithinamerica

Trump announces travel ban from Europe to the US in bid to stem coronavirus – video

Donald Trump’s first Oval Office address – that almost sacred altar for US presidents on prime time television – came in January 2019 amid a partial government shutdown and asserted that only a border wall can keep out dangerous illegal immigrants.

His second such address on Wednesday night was again couched in terms around the need to resist a foreign invasion that is someone else’s fault. The problem is that the coronavirus is already inside America and spreading.

And the message was delivered by a 73-year-old man with a sniffing habit who did not seem to be a glowing picture of health nor entirely at ease reading from a TelePrompter. His bold assertion last week – “I like this stuff. I really get it … Maybe I have a natural ability.” – seemed even more incredible than before.

Addresses to the nation from the Oval Office are meant to be defining moments for a president to act as commander in chief or consoler in chief.

After the crew of the space shuttle Challenger perished in a disaster in 1986, Ronald Reagan promised: “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God’.”

George W Bush made half a dozen Oval Office addresses, including on the night of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Barack Obama delivered three. Trump has typically resisted conventions – it has been exactly a year since the last White House press briefing – but even he finds some of them necessary or useful.

On Wednesday he wore a blue suit, white shirt and blue patterned tie – not his favourite red. He also sported a stars and stripes pin and had hands his folded before him (he said nothing about the potential perils of shaking hands). His face looked undeniably orange. Behind him were framed photos, including portraits of his parents, and flags and gold curtains. Advertisement

At 9.02pm, Trump began as presidents so often do: “My fellow Americans.” But in the next breath, he reverted to his familiar us-versus-them nationalism, referring to the coronavirus outbreak “that started in China” and is now spreading throughout the world. “This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.” Not just a virus. A foreign virus.

The president touted his own sweeping travel restrictions on China and, far from expressing sympathy and solidarity with allies, argued the European Union “failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe.”

Trump announced the US will bebanning travelers from many European countries to the US for the next 30 days with exemptions for Americans, permanent residents and family of US citizens who have undergone screenings and, mysteriously, the UK, despite it having a higher caseload than some other European countries. Could Brexit be the new TSA PreCheck?

The president then made an awful bungle. He said “these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval”. Such words could trigger global economic panic. Trump was forced to hastily clarify on Twitter: “… very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe. The restriction stops people not goods.”

He went on to talk of the pathogen as if it was a foreign army or terrorist network. “The virus will not have a chance against us,” he said. “No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States.”

And seen in the midst of an emergency, Trump could not resist some campaigning. “Because of the economic policies that we have put into place over the last three years, we have the greatest economy anywhere in the world by far,” he said.

“This is not a financial crisis, this is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.”

Many observers found the address unreassuring and downright weird. Susan Glasser, a staff writer from the New Yorker, tweeted: “The militaristic, nationalistic language of Trump’s speech tonight is striking: a ‘foreign virus,’ keeping out China and Europe.”

David Litt, who wrote speeches for Obama, posted: “As a former presidential speechwriter, my careful rhetorical analysis is that he’s gonna get us all killed.”

Trump’s second Oval Office address was over in 10 minutes. Then a man off camera said: “We’re clear.” The president unbuttoned his jacket and exclaimed with relief: “OK!”

To millions of viewers, it was anything but.

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