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Maybe Humans Are Changing Their Minds About Being Jerks to Mother Earth

Pakistan is planting 10 billion trees by tapping thousands of workers left unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ILLUSTRATOR Warren Espejo
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Guess what, humans? The Earth is more powerful and more clever than your sinister machinations. After decades of abuse—the plundering of wildlife, the non-stop deforestation, your incessant video streaming—the planet appears to be fighting back, giving men an unpleasant surprise in the form of a devious virus that has infected more than three million people and claimed over 200,000 lives. 

Now that everyone has been placed in a very serious time out by the original mother, people are becoming more mindful about the natural world and considering their impact on animals, forests, and the living Earth itself. 

Pakistan plants 10 billion trees.

In Pakistan, the government has injected more manpower for its 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project by tapping an unexpected source: the thousands of people who have become unemployed because of the pandemic’s negative effect on businesses. 

Launched in 2018, the ambitious tree-planting initiative, which follows the success of a previous one billion tree project, aims to plant 10 billion saplings in order to reverse deforestation and arrest climate woes such as flooding and droughts.

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According to Aljazeera, the project was paused to comply with Pakistan’s social distancing efforts, but was restarted last month as a way to “create more than 63,600 jobs” for unemployed day laborers, mostly young people and women. They now plant trees in 6,000 hectares of land near Islamabad, the country’s capital, and other state-owned forests. 

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SEA supports the closure of wildlife markets.

The green awakening is happening elsewhere, too. New research by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) shows that over 93 percent of respondents from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong support the closure of wildlife markets to prevent future pandemics. Five thousand people from five markets, Japan, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, were polled in March for the study. Respondents from Japan also support the closures, tallying a 73 percent agreement rate.

Like SARS, MERS, and Ebola, COVID-19 has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a zoonotic disease or one that jumps from animals to humans. WHO notes that “wildlife trade is an aggravating risk in the spread of zoonoses.” 

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“The public in Asia have spoken—those living in countries where wildlife markets are most prevalent are demanding that wildlife consumption is curbed and illegal and unregulated wildlife trade is eliminated,” said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International. People are deeply worried and would support their governments in taking action to prevent potential future global health crises originating in wildlife markets.” 

This shift in attitudesrefusing to eat exotic meat from sketchy markets located at the fringes of a forest or creating green jobs to address climate changeis a good start toward making peace with Mother Earth, which, right now, is not very pleased with us.

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About The Author
Clifford Olanday
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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