COVID-19 : health emergency and climate emergency: an ecological vision and the community resilience

Author:Domenico Vito

These days are tremendous

“Tremendous” its the word that exactly describe the situation

Tremendous comes from the latin word “tremendus” and means shiver and reminds fear and tremors. One word, no others dry – that shocks leaving powerless and incredulous.

This health emergency due to COVID-19 hits tremendously.

Like a shiver that has crossed all the world as we known it since now. Starting from one point and running each strip of the system reach the deepest of the nerves

Unpredictably, totally, quickly and deeply

A shiver of pain, as much pain as that of 6.077 deaths, which to date are registered in Italy.

General information on the virus and the disease

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses belonging to the Coronaviridae family, which are both human and animal. They are so called for the crown-shaped tips that have the surface proteins of the “peaks” [2]

Human Coronaviruses [1] can cause mild diseases such as colds or more severe diseases such as MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and SARS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

These viruses are very common in animal species and in some cases they can cause them zoonos [2], that is, they can be transmitted between animals and people.

A new type of coronavirus, which has never been identified before, appeared in Wuhan last December 2019: it belongs to the family that generates SARS and has been called ‘2019-nCoV’ or SARS-CoV-2 and is classified genetically inside of the subgenus Betacoronavirus Sarbecovirus.

The human type appears to have spawned from zoonoses.

From genetic analyzes and comparisons with sequences of other coronaviruses from different animal species, it appears to have originated from bats.

Specifically, two bat coronaviruses share 88% of the genetic sequence with that of SARS-CoV2 (compared to two other coronaviruses known to infect people – SARS and MERS – SARS-CoV2 shares approximately 79% of its genetic sequence with SARS and 50% with MERS). As with SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, it is speculated that the transmission did not occur directly from bats to humans, but that there is yet another animal yet to be identified that acted as a kind of springboard to transmit the virus to ‘man. It is assumed to be the snake [2].

The disease associated with ‘2019-nCoV’ has been called COVID-19 (‘CO’ stands for Corona, VI stands for virus, D stands for Disease, ’19 ‘is the year of explosion).

Signs and symptoms include cough fever, shortness of breath and in acute and severe cases respiratory syndrome and death(WHO).

Respiratory syndrome (SARS or MERS) is caused by respiratory airways infection, subsequent inflammation and collapse of the pulmonary alveoli, such as to require the support of mechanical ventilation[6].

The elderly and people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease are at greater risk although several cases of deaths from young patients have occurred.

The world lethality rate is 4% of the infected (WHO).

The incubation period is estimated to vary on average between 2 and 14 days.

SARS-CoV2, seem to be very contagious: if someone who has contracted COVID-19 coughs or exhales, he releases micro-drops that can fall on nearby surfaces and objects, such as desks, tables or telephones.

COVID-19 can survive for several hours, but simple disinfectants can kill it.

Contagion can occur by contact with contaminated objects and if by a distance of one meter from a person with COVID-19. What has been understood is that COVID-19 spreads like a flu, or even worse: on average, one infected patient infects two other patients.[4]. Technically the virus R0 factor is estimated between 2 and 2,5 [5]. For these featurs – and for the our community is shaped, the infection from SARS-CoV-2 has reached the state of PANDEMIA, affecting over 100 countries in a few weeks [3].

IN ITALY as we see, the situation is particularly critic.

between 1 March and 11 March the percentage of ICU patients grew between 9 and 11% .  The table below reports the snapshot of the situation of today. Here the contagion map

Source: Civil Protection Bulletin

Despite the measures, the situation is still dramatic and although the epidemic seemed firstly to affect Northern Italy, it now affects the whole nation.

It is not limited to a part, but must be treated with respect to the whole

Source: WHO

Ad oggi non esistono cure farmacologiche accertate o vaccini, e l’unica misura che ha dato risultati per il blocco della pandemia è stata la quarantena (Wuhan) e l’adozione di misure di prevenzione personali e collettive.

Since today, there are no tested pharmacological treatments or vaccines, and the only strategy that has given declared results to block the pandemic has been the quarantine (Wuhan) and the adoption of personal and collective prevention measures.

Health crisis and ecosystem and climate crisis

This health crisis and the climate and environmental crisis have different interconnections, for different reasons and different aspects.

FIRST, the causes there is a very close link between the diseases that is terrorizing now the planet and the loss of biodiversity. Many of the emerging diseases (Ebola, AIDS, SARS, avian influenza, SARS-CoV-2) are not entirely random but are the indirect consequence of our impact on natural ecosystems and a distorted human-nature relationship.

Standing to Wwf Report  ”Ripensare l’ecologia e gli stili di vita nelle emergenze” the distruction of ecosystem particullarly the forests can cause the diffusion of pandemic standing to the phenomenon of “spillover” (Quammen, 2012). Zoonoses become easier if there are less intermediate species to come to man, furthermore the illegal commerce of wild animals and parts of them (typical of some zones) is a way to increase the probability of the phenomenon.


Once erupted, the spread of the pandemic is also facilitated by the presence of large urban agglomerations hyperpopulated and anthropized and by uncontrolled and hyperkinetic travels.

SECOND, the effects in the anthroposphere and in the biosphere.

In the anthroposphere, this virus has completely and unpredictably challenged the toxic constructs of modern society. Without doubts

It forced us to stop, to limit transport to review geopolitics – to pay maniacal attention to how we interface with the surrounding environment.

Just like a shiver has shaken every organ of the machine: from the health sector to defence to the economic sector, FORCING them to function differently. In a coordinated way for survival … either if there were no coordination there is no survival

Never before a biotic component (virus) has influenced and determined the state of the economic system so much

From an ecological point of view, this pandemic is considered from several thinkers a sort of self-regulation of the biosphere.

As we can see from the figures below and from this video that shows that evolution on air quality in the chinese areas which applied quarantine.

Fonte: ARPA Veneto

the air quality has drastically improved, due to the block of activities and especially of transport (another interesting fact).

Very suggestive that a virus that affects the respiratory tract leads to an improvement in the quality of the air (editor’s note)

But this also applies to several other components of the biosphere (water, soil, etc ..)

For an official position on the relationship betwieen COVID-19 and Air Quality reference to the position paper of SIMA (Società Italiana Medici Ambientali).

Third, responses

Without drugs and pharmacological care quarantine is the only measure that seems to be effective.

The goal is to contain and delay the peak of contagions in order to have the little of them.

The type of response is ecological, almost Malthusian should be said: we follow the trend of the virus population and how it “preys” us to contain it.

The answer should to be also be a community one, that is, “EVERYONE must participate against the common threat”.

Governments need to launch measures that are useless if citizenship does not cooperate and also, if ALL the governments of the world do not coordinate in the global response, they do not take it over

WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME BOAT against the virus crown

We are all on the same planet, and there are many analogies with the necessary response to the climate crisis. Talanoa.

In addition, the figure of experts (doctors, virologists, nurses) is in the foreground: their voice is heard, because the answer must consider their opinion mandatorly. It should be like this in the role of the IPCC for example


The metaphor that this crisis is a “general rehearsal” of what awaits us with a climate crisis is becoming very popular.

There are certainly many similarities, and the changes in lifestyles, the structure of our world that we are now experiencing forcibly, are very connected to what we would have to CHOOSE to combat the climate crisis.

But we did not choose irresponsibly …

Community Resilient

Like any thrill, COVID-19 also shook us

Dropping our ability to go on with the routine, it forced us into a condition in which we mandatory must discover new ways to strengthen ourselves, to work, to build relationships.
And so we rediscovered smartworking, video calls, the value of being with the family, the sense of time and the little things that we were apparently deprived of.
Instantly our government took measures with a speed far from Italian, and masses moved from north to south …. Chapeau Coronavirus.

In Italy above all we have rediscovered a spirit of national community, the desire to sing.

Despite the immense suffering of our victims – tragic and atrocious in frightening numbers – we have rediscovered a community

Facing a common threat, we have rediscovered our community resilience

And in this, information technologies have played a big role,being rediscovered not only as a profit space, but as space of humanity.

In short, hints of a possible future.

In a imaginary science fictionthis virus would be a sort of evolutionary messenger. Its missioun would be to make us make that leap that we have always been afraid to do, to learn to respect us and the planet – with a certain cost, because in nature nothing is created and nothing is destroyed as physics teaches us.

In this very human search for meaning, during this quarantine we will have the time we will have time to reflect on how to start again

And it cannot be as before, otherwise all this would not really make sense …

#stayathome #everythingwillbefine #stopcovid19

Here reported a reflection of the psycologist Francesca Morelli

In a historical moment in which certain discriminatory ideologies and policies, with strong references to a petty past, are reactivating all over the world, a virus arrives that makes us experience that, in a moment, we can become the discriminated, the segregated, those stuck at the border, those who carry disease. Even if we are not to blame. Even if we are white, western and we travel in business class. In a society based on productivity and consumption, in which we all run 14 hours a day, we don’t know exactly what, without Saturdays or Sundays, without more reds than the calendar, at any moment, the stop comes. Stop at home, days and days. To deal with a time of which we have lost value, if it is not measurable in compensation, in money. Do we still know what to do with it?In a phase in which the growth of our own children is, by force of circumstances, often delegated to other figures and institutions, the virus closes schools and forces them to find alternative solutions, to put moms and dads together with their children. It forces us to rebuild family.

In a dimension in which relationships, communication and sociality are played mainly in the “non-space” of the virtual, of the social network, giving us the illusion of closeness, the virus takes away the true one of closeness, the real one: that nobody touch each other, no kisses, no hugs, at a distance, in the cold of non-contact

How much have we taken for granted these gestures and their meaning?

In a social phase in which NIMBY approach has become the rule, the virus sends us a clear message: the only way to get out is reciprocity, the sense of belonging, the community, the feeling of being part of something more great to take care of and that you can take care of us. The shared responsibility, the feeling that the fate depends not only on yours but also on everyone around you. And that you depend on them.

So if we stop hunting witches, wondering who is to blame or why all this has happened, but we wonder what we can learn from this, I think we all have a lot to think about and commit to. Because with the cosmos and its laws, obviously, we are in deep debt.

The virus is explaining it to us, at a high price. “





[2] IIS, COVID-19, molto probabile un ruolo per i pipistrelli, ma si cerca ancora l’ospite intermedio

[3] Remuzzi, A., & Remuzzi, G. (2020). COVID-19 and Italy: what next?The Lancet.

[4] “The average coronavirus patient infects at least 2 others, suggesting the virus is far more contagious than flu”

[5] Zhang, Sheng, et al. “Estimation of the reproductive number of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the probable outbreak size on the Diamond Princess cruise ship: A data-driven analysis.” International Journal of Infectious Diseases (2020).

[6] Coronavirus e sindrome respiratoria acuta (COVID-19, MERS e SARS)

[7] Coronavirus, ripensare l’ecologia e gli stili di vita nei giorni dell’emergenza

[8] Coronavirus, le pandemie sono collegate alla perdita di biodiversità

[9] Coronavirus: quando arriverà il picco del contagio?

[10] Bollettino 20 marzo – CORONAVIRUS

[11] CORONAVIRUS: quando finisce il picco, quando arriverà l’epidemia

[12] Coronavirus, ripensare l’ecologia e gli stili di vita nei giorni dell’emergenza

[13] SIMA: Position Paper

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