The Anthropocene: Harvest of Domination
An Animal Rights Article from

FROM Hiranmay Karlekar,
September 2020

We treat animals in the most cruel and exploitative manner. Underlying such conduct is not only callousness but sadism, to which animals can be subjected without condemnation and punishment.

burning rainforest

One does not quite know what the shape of the world will be after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. The several informed speculations at hand — including the one that it would eventually be like it was — may or may not come true. The only thing that is reasonably certain is that the virus COVID-19 emerged in bats, infected another animal and, through it, humans… COVID-19 is not the only virus originating in animals and affecting humans. Other deadly diseases include Ebola, which belongs to the category of filoviruses or thread viruses and includes three sub-types of Ebola viruses… Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and West Nile Virus have also originated in animals. SARS coronavirus emerged in China’s Guangdong province in 2002…

The question is, how do these come to infect people? While transmission modes may differ, the basic circumstance is proximity to animals who are “hosts” to the viruses concerned. The nature of this proximity is influenced by the way that most humans regard animals, which is that they can be treated any way people like —they can be killed for fun as in the criminal activity that goes by the name of hunting, for food, savagely hurt in the name of fun —bull fights in Spain, Jallikattu in parts of South India, or cockfights and dogfights in many parts of the world. They are made to pull or carry heavy loads that make them stagger and undergo horrendous suffering in the name of medical experimentation benefiting humans.

Of course, animals are not the only living beings that humans treat horribly. We treat the whole of nature, of which animals are a part, in the most cruel and exploitative manner… Underlying such conduct is not only callousness but sadism, to which animals can be subjected without attracting the kind of condemnation and punishment that similar action towards humans do…

The attitude towards nature described above has been compounded by the adversarial view of it that emerged during the long struggle for human survival and progress, which included the establishment of human settlements and farms for food, the domestication of animals, use of the latter in wars, controlling of rivers for irrigation and flood-prevention… This in turn has led to the identification of progress with mastery over nature. The latter was not the matrix to live in harmony with but to be destroyed and subordinated at will.

What was forgotten in the process was that humankind emerged from the cradle of nature, which included all non-human living beings as well, and has existed in the supportive environment provided by it. Destruction — even severe damage to the latter — could threaten its very existence. The devastating effects of climate change, including extinction of species, and the cyclones and tidal waves that are increasingly playing havoc, are widely known. Now the abominable conditions existing in Wuhan’s live animal market have unleashed the COVID-19 virus on humans. This is unlikely to be the last zoonotic or natural calamity visiting our world. There will be others, and perhaps even more catastrophic, if we do not mend our ways.

[Originally published on The Pioneer.]

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