The first people to catch an animal virus are poor. Oftentimes they are hungry enough to eat a bat. Scrawny farmers without their own land have little choice but crash into wildlife habitat. The virus then spreads and pandemics are born. So if those unlucky people could afford food and work fallow land, there’d be far fewer encounters between bats, snakes, chimps, etc, and hungry humans.
Another factor could be overpopulation. Humanity is infecting every nook and cranny of the planet. Happily, prosperity slows growth and soon stabilizes populations, as now in Europe.
Fortunately, history shows how a few places did develop from poor to prosperous, the classic example being Taiwan. What the government of Chiang Kai-shek did was charge landowners for holding land. To avoid the charge, the big landowners, who had more than they could (or did) use, and so would pay their society the largest “land dues”, wisely sold off their excess and at prices the poor could afford.
In two decades, Taiwan went from knowing hunger to being one of the Asian Tigers. The other Tigers also used a similar form of Taiwan's land prosperity reform. Furthermore, as a result, healthcare improved as well throughout these areas. There are valuable lessons to be taught here that would be beneficial for other countries to learn.
Of course, even after spreading prosperity, some humans might still catch an animal virus. What then?
* Then the victims to stimulate their immune systems, maybe with supplements, maybe with nano-medicine, to kill the invaders quickly.
* And so they don’t infect others, they’d do what everybody has heard a million times by now—wash the hands, self-isolate, and so on.
Not to downplay the things that the individual can do, but notice how you never hear over and over a million times what your society as a whole can do—legitimize supplements, invest in nano-medicine, and institute land dues to spur fair and efficient use of land everywhere.
Do that, and the animals will thank us, even if their viruses won’t.
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JEFFERY J. SMITH published The Geonomist, which won a California GreenLight Award, has appeared in both the popular press (e.g.,TruthOut) and academic journals (e.g., USC's “Planning and Markets”), been interviewed on radio and TV, lobbied officials, testified before the Russian Duma, conducted research (e.g., for Portland's mass transit agency), and recruited activists and academics to Progress.org. A member of the International Society for Ecological Economics and of Mensa, he lives in Mexico. Jeffery formerly was Chief Editor at Progress.org.