Email a letter to the editor at and we will publish it online and in print.

LETTER: COVID-19 a wake up call for humanity

‘Missing in the COVID-19 conversation is how the virus was able to mutate and transfer to sapiens’

Dear editor,

Re: COVID-19 epidemic: Wake up call for humanity

I can’t be the first person to see COVID-19 as H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, in reverse. It’s too obvious.

Recall that in the science fiction classic, it’s the martians who invade. They – insect-like creatures with six spindly limbs – arrive in pods and start assembling huge towers with killer-ray weapons mounted on top. As they set about destroying humanity, all military defences are brought to bear, including, as a last resort, atomic bombs. Just when it looks like it’s all over for homo sapiens, the aliens mysteriously start dying off in droves. The protagonist narrator/survivor, hiding out in a remote country cottage, wakes up one morning to discover the creatures’ corpses littering the roads. Subsequent autopsies reveal that the aliens, despite their technological superiority, lacked the most primitive weapon of all; an immune system. Finally, it was lowly microbes that saved us.

Was Wells even suggesting an alternative interpretation, namely that we take a good look in the mirror and consider who the real invaders are; who/what the real threat is? After all, Wells was a committed socialist, a student of Darwinian evolution, and deeply suspicious of industrial capitalism even then, when the Industrial Revolution was still taking shape.

So indiscriminately destructive has conventional human behaviour become — woven into the social fabric you might say — that we don’t even bat an eye when another species goes extinct. We stand by, powerless while the last stands of old growth forest are cut down to make toilet paper, “inconvenient” mammals removed to make way for roads and runways, mountain tops blown off for dinosaur coal, 95 per cent of all fish species harvested to the brink. In the 21st century we’re still beholden to what is perhaps the most pernicious myth ever perpetrated on the public; that of infinite growth on a finite planet.

Missing in the COVID-19 conversation is how the virus was able to mutate and transfer to sapiens. This isn’t the first virus to make the species leap, nor will it be the last. Make no mistake — this is all about meat, and the mass confinement, mis-treatment and slaughter of animals, in this case wildlife “wet markets” in the Third World. The mass confinement and mistreatment of animals — mostly hidden from sight in North America — is the meat industry’s ugly little secret.

You’re not supposed to care about where your food comes from, how much suffering/abuse goes into producing your beef, pork and chicken, or the enormous hidden subsidies that make so-called cheap food possible. As Paul McCartney put it: “If slaughterhouses were made of glass, everyone would give up meat”. And, if this weren’t enough, there’s another more scientific reason for rejecting meat; one that has everything to do with climate change.

It’s impossible not to think of the Anthropocene — the new geological age humans have forged — in these existential terms. You keep hearing about the asteroid on a collision course with Earth. There’s another kind of asteroid, one that’s already arrived. We just haven’t recognized it yet. Our existential predicament reminds me of the remark made by Oliver Hazard during the War of 1812 when the Red Coats suddenly appeared over the horizon: “I’ve never seen the enemy sir. It’s us”.

Hugh Nevin,

Fort Rupert

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Poetry contest started for Vancouver Island poets

“We’re such a unique group,” says founder on why she wanted to start the collective

North Island College ready for a virtual fall semester

“It’s a really good time to be a student.”

Ten hour planned power outage coming for north Island residents

To keep crews and the public safe, power must be switched off while BC Hydro completes the work.

A parent’s pandemic survival kit: Are you rewarding bad behaviour? Part 2

The phrase, “be good” is just an anxiety-provoking nebulous idea that threatens rejection.

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Most Read