Apocalypse Now: Stop the Madness

“April is the cruelest month.”

–T.S. Eliot, “The Wasteland,” 1922

COVID-19 has now violently emerged, alongside the Climate Emergency, as an existential threat. Our health, economic livelihoods, climate stability, democracy—our very survival as a human species—is under attack.

If we’re going to survive this pandemic, and avoid the pandemics lying in wait, if we’re going to avoid the greatest pandemic of them all looming on the horizon—runaway global warming and catastrophic climate change—we need to take control of our destiny and build a new Green Commonwealth that is regenerative, rather than degenerative.

To survive and thrive we will have to shut down the fossil fuel industry and the military-industrial complex. We will need to close down the world’s bio-warfare labs (like the ones at Wuhan, China and Fort Detrick, Maryland), wet markets, intensive confinement farms, and wildlife trafficking that lie at the root of COVID-19.

To avoid future pandemics, to stop the spread of antibiotic resistance and the food- and environment-related chronic diseases that are now reaching epidemic levels (cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, pulmonary deterioration), and that constitute a major co-factor in COVID-19 deaths, we will have to eliminate factory farms (the perfect breeding grounds for disease and pandemics) and industrial food production, transform the diets and eating habits of the population and drastically reduce air pollution. This means moving from chemical- and energy-intensive industrial agriculture, transportation, utilities and manufacturing to re-localized green and regenerative practices. It means putting an end to the deforestation, habitat destruction, economic exploitation, globalized trade wars and geopolitical belligerence that threaten us all.

Yes, we need a Grassroots Rising, just like I describe in my new book.

A global grassroots rising powerful enough to push aside indentured politicians and corporate special interests, and to implement a Coronavirus Rescue Program and a Green New Deal. This Rescue Program and Green New Deal must include a new food, farming and healthcare system, and a guaranteed income for all—providing the foundation for a new green economy.

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We simply need to build up and expand upon our existing best practices—our organic, regenerative and re-localized food, farming, energy, natural health and land use systems—before it’s too late.

As of April 5, the mass media, at least in the UK, are finally admitting what some of us have been saying for more than a month—COVID-19 likely leaked out of a chemical and biological weapons research lab in Wuhan, China located near the Wuhan market.

The official ‘lone bat’ theory

As the Chinese government, Big Pharma and the commercial media have been telling us, COVID-19 came from a bat virus in China that unfortunately jumped the species barrier into humans. The virus was vectored by “wet markets,” in this case the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where live animals are caged, slaughtered, cooked and eaten.

The mass media, however, have ignored a number of early Chinese scientific and media reports (now suppressed) that no animals at the market tested positive for COVID-19, that approximately one-third of the initial group of reported human cases in Wuhan from early December 2019 had no connection to the seafood market, including the first reported case. The media also have largely ignored the testimony of numerous people in the Wuhan market who have categorically stated that there were no bats for sale, nor eaten in the market.

In January a Beijing newspaper reported that “patient zero,” the first victim of the COVID-19 virus, was in fact Huang Yanling, a scientist at the Wuhan Virology Lab.

As several well respected Chinese scientists, Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao, pointed out in a pre-publication scientific article in February of this year (since suppressed by the government):

“According to municipal reports and the testimonies of 31 residents and 28 visitors, the bat was never a food source in the city, and no bat was traded in the market.”

Although there were apparently no horseshoe bats for sale in the Wuhan market, there were lots of bats being experimented on in two supposedly high-security research labs nearby. One of these was just 300 yards away (adjacent to Union Hospital, where several early cases of COVID-19 infected hospital doctors), and another was seven miles away. The conclusion of Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao was that “In addition to origins of natural recombination and intermediate host, the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.”

The April 5 UK Daily Mail story quotes a U.S. bioweapons expert, Richard Ebright:

“American biosecurity expert Professor Richard Ebright, of Rutgers University’s Waksman Institute of Microbiology, New Jersey, said that while the evidence suggests Covid-19 was not created in one of the Wuhan laboratories, it could easily have escaped from there while it was being analyzed.

“Prof. Ebright said he has seen evidence that scientists at the Centre for Disease Control and the Institute of Virology studied the viruses with only ‘level 2’ security—rather than the recommended level 4—which ‘provides only minimal protections against infection of lab workers’.

“He added: ‘Virus collection, culture, isolation, or animal infection would pose a substantial risk of infection of a lab worker, and from the lab worker then the public.’”

The Daily Mail goes on to report:

“In 2004, a leak from a Chinese laboratory led to an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), killing one person and infecting nine others.”

Despite the Chinese regime’s current propaganda that they’ve conquered COVID-19, and are now ready to help the rest of the world stave off the pandemic, the ruling junta bears a major part of the blame for the current global disaster.

As Andrew Nikiforuk writes in Tyee magazine:

“Faced with the coronavirus threat, Chinese authorities, according to comprehensive reports by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, suppressed whistleblowers, ignored critical evidence and responded so tardily to the outbreak that they moved to compensate for their failures with a draconian lockdown . . . one city after another from Bergamo to Madrid to New York is now reliving the Wuhan experience with a higher proportion of infections and death rates in their citizens and health-care workers than ever reported by China’s totalitarian state.”

The official solution

The powers that be assure us that Big Pharma (backed by Bill and Melinda Gates) will soon come to our rescue with a highly profitable, blockbuster vaccine that will protect us all from COVID-19.

Unfortunately, Big Pharma also made similar promises during the previous SARS1 outbreak (in 2003), a predecessor to COVID-19. But apparently the earlier version of SARS didn’t kill enough people (8,000 people from 29 different countries became infected, and 774 died) to guarantee the market profitability of a SARS1 vaccine.

These same “authorities” somehow forget to mention that most of Big Pharma’s recent seasonal flu vaccines (often laced with mercury as a preservative and aluminum to enhance the effect) typically have a rather mediocre success rate of 20 – 50 percent, not to mention side effects.

But this time there are plenty of dead bodies, and plenty of money to be made, since people are justifiably scared to death. That’s why Big Pharma stocks are rising, even as most of Wall Street is collapsing. Commander-in Chief-Trump even reportedly offered a billion dollars to a German Pharma company in exchange for exclusive patent rights to the U.S. for the company’s forthcoming vaccine. Google and Facebook, heavily invested in pharmaceuticals, will no doubt—as a public service of course—continue to track us all through our mobile phones and work with the authorities to make sure we all get all our future COVID-19 vaccine shots.

The Chinese government will henceforth ban live animal markets (“wet markets’), even as they continue (as will the U.S., France, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Israel and other nations) their “defensive” experiments with chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents in labs where accidents, leaks and thefts have almost become routine.

The U.S.’s largest CBW lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland, was temporarily closed by the Centers for Disease Control just last year for “problems with disposal of dangerous materials,” the specifics of which Fort Detrick refused to give to the New York Times for “reasons of national security.”

Meanwhile the Washington Post reported (February 27, 2019) last year, in an article recently removed from its website—“The U.S. Is Funding Dangerous Experiments It Doesn’t Want You to Know About”—that the Trump administration has restarted previously suspended “funding for two groups of researchers . . . to conduct transmission-enhancing experiments on the bird flu virus.”

I guess Fort Detrick officials and the mass media believe we shouldn’t worry too much about millions of infections and hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 deaths, since we’ll soon (maybe) have a vaccine? Do our information, Internet and national security gatekeepers also believe we shouldn’t worry too much about future outbreaks of potentially even deadlier supercharged and/or weaponized zoonotic (animal-to-human) diseases coming out of deforested areas, degraded wildlife habitat, leaky bio-warfare labs and filthy, disease-ridden factory farms?

As food activist and epidemiologist Rob Wallace writes:

“The H1N1 (2009) influenza outbreak that worried so many a decade-plus ago proved less virulent than it first seemed. But even that strain penetrated the global population, and quietly killed patients, at magnitudes far beyond these first follow-up dismissals. [The swine flu pandemic] H1N1 (2009) killed as many as 579,000 people its first year, producing complications in fifteen times more cases than initially projected from lab tests alone…

“This century we’ve already trainspotted novel strains of African swine fever, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Ebola, E. coli O157:H7, foot-and-mouth disease, hepatitis E,  Listeria, Nipah virus, Q fever, Salmonella, Vibrio, Yersinia, Zika, and a variety of novel influenza A variants, including H1N1 (2009), H1N2v, H3N2v, H5N1, H5N2, H5Nx, H6N1, H7N1, H7N3, H7N7, H7N9, and H9N2.

“And near-nothing real was done about any of them. Authorities spent a sigh of relief upon each’s reversal and immediately took the next roll of the epidemiological dice, risking snake eyes of maximum virulence and transmissibility”

Have we forgotten about the recent emerging diseases and epidemics that have preceded COVID-19, including SARS (2003, originating in civet cats) MERS (2012, originating in camels), avian flu and swine flu (2009, originating in birds and pigs), Ebola (2014 originating in bats), African Swine Fever (2019, originating in pigs), and two earlier and continuing epidemics, Lyme Disease (1975, originating in ticks), and HIV (1981, originating in monkeys)?

Have we forgotten that antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause more than 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, largely attributed to feeding antibiotics to billions of animals in factory farms?

Have we forgotten the dire warning by global public health officials that antibiotic-resistance infections could kill 10 million people by 2050?

Have we forgotten the warning by climate scientists that billions of people will die from runaway global warming and climate catastrophe if we don’t act quickly and drastically to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while drawing down and sequestering in our trees, soils and plants several hundred billion tons of CO2 through regenerative food, farming, and ecosystem restoration?

So why worry? Big Pharma, Bill Gates, Google, Facebook, Wall Street, the World Health Organization, the White House, enlightened CEOs and free market politicians will take care of us, right?

Please don’t lie awake at night worrying about virulent viruses escaping from bio-warfare labs i.e. Wuhan-type accidents or “security lapses” at any of the world’s hundreds of chemical biological warfare labs. These leaks, accidents, and thefts happen all the time.

Don’t worry about China or Russia or another nation, such as Iran or North Korea, retaliating against our trade wars and sanctions and attacking us with their weaponized viruses, because we’ll annihilate them with our own chemical and biological warfare weapons. In nuclear war circles this is known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

Before we know it, just like Trump and Fox News say, we’ll all be back at the shopping malls buying Chinese goods, or else chowing down on cheap pesticide- and antibiotic-laced food, and factory farm meat and animal products at our favorite (non-organic) restaurants and grocery stores.

And by the way, don’t worry about global warming either. The “free market” and the political establishment will inevitably take care of this problem, just like they’re doing with COVID-19, with only a few minor disruptions to business as usual.

It’s time to stop the madness. It’s time to eliminate the dangerous drivers of COVID-19, as well as the other emerging pandemics, epidemics and chronic diseases that continue to threaten our health and our livelihoods.

Once you’re forced to go to the hospital, it doesn’t really matter whether a virus or a bacteria was synthetically weaponized in a lab, or transmitted by a bat, civet, bird or a pangolin because its jungle habitat was clear-cut for a palm oil or GMO soybean plantation, or whether it was “naturally” weaponized by passing through thousands of genetically identical chickens or pigs in an industrial factory farm. Either way, you’re just as sick.

It’s time to acknowledge that if people are healthy, with healthy lungs, a strong immune system, optimum levels of vitamin D in their bodies, and are physically active, it’s unlikely they will die from COVID-19.

It’s time to admit that low-grade industrial food, air pollution, environmental and occupational hazards, and lack of access to healthy food and medical care give rise to the “pre-existing medical conditions” that enable COVID-19 and other chronic diseases to kill people before their time.

The reason African-Americans, and low-income people in general, are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and are dying in greater numbers than affluent whites, is because of institutional racism and classism. When people are forced to live in polluted environments, with limited access to healthy foods, nutritional supplements and enlightened medical care (including complementary medicine) they are vulnerable.

Economic justice, jobs and income for all, and a health-promoting food and medical system are some of the most powerful and effective antidotes to disease.

As Rebecca Solnit reminds us:

“. . . one of the things most dangerous . . . is the lapse into believing that everything was fine before disaster struck, and that all we need to do is return to things as they were. Ordinary life before the pandemic was already a catastrophe of desperation and exclusion for too many human beings, an environmental and climate catastrophe, an obscenity of inequality.”

Antibiotic resistance, cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety, opioid addiction, mental and behavioral disorders, poverty, exploitation, environmental degradation, loss  of food nutrition—these are all part of a larger, “slow motion pandemic” that has degenerated the health of the body politic to the point where most of us may not even live long enough to be threatened by the greatest pandemic of them all: catastrophic climate change and the collapse of our environment and life-support systems.

We can turn things around. We can take control of our health, our diets and our political destiny.

One contemporary visionary, Charles Eisenstein, summarizes the crossroads that we face:

“For a long time, we, as a collective, have stood helpless in the face of an ever-sickening society. Whether it is declining health, decaying infrastructure, depression, suicide, addiction, ecological degradation, or concentration of wealth, the symptoms of civilizational malaise in the developed world are plain to see, but we have been stuck in the systems and patterns that cause them. Now, COVID has gifted us a reset.

“A million forking paths lie before us. Universal basic income could mean an end to economic insecurity and the flowering of creativity as millions are freed from the work that COVID has shown us is less necessary than we thought. Or it could mean, with the decimation of small businesses, dependency on the state for a stipend that comes with strict conditions. The crisis could usher in totalitarianism or solidarity; medical martial law or a holistic renaissance; greater fear of the microbial world or greater resiliency in participation in it; permanent norms of social distancing or a renewed desire to come together . . .

“The virus we face here is fear, whether it is fear of COVID-19, or fear of the totalitarian response to it, and this virus too has its terrain. Fear, along with addiction, depression, and a host of physical ills, flourishes in a terrain of separation and trauma: inherited trauma, childhood trauma, violence, war, abuse, neglect, shame, punishment, poverty, and the muted, normalized trauma that affects nearly everyone who lives in a monetized economy, undergoes modern schooling, or lives without community or connection to place . . . Already we can feel the power of who we might become.”

The hour is late. But there is still time to turn things around.

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico-based affiliate, Via Organica.