The Real Story of the Covid Catastrophe is Larger Than You Know

Thom plus logo Covid may soon be the least of our worries

Our planet is screaming a message at us, and Covid is part of that communication. The death of nature and the appearance of Covid are all part of the same thing.

I'll never forget the day the trucker called into my radio show. It was at least a decade ago, and he identified himself as a long-haul trucker who regularly ran a coast-to-coast route from the southeast to the Pacific Northwest dozens of times a year.

"Used to be when I was driving through the southern part of the Midwest like I am right now," he said, "I'd have to stop every few hours to clean the bugs off my windshield. It's been three days since I've had to clean bugs off my windshield on this trip. There's something spooky going on out here."

The phone lines lit up. People from Maine to California, from Florida to Washington state shared their stories of the vanishing insects where they lived. Multiple long-haul truckers listening on SiriusXM had similar stories.

We had just moved to Portland at that time, living on a floating home in the Willamette River, and the air was often filled with bugs and swallows, small insect-eating birds that fly as fast and sometimes as erratically as bats. A neighbor had a "swallow house," a box on a pole by the side of her home with a dozens small holes in it where the swallows made their nests.

A bit more than a decade later, now living on the Columbia River in Portland, I haven't seen a swallow in at least two years. The swarms of gnats, the mosquitoes, butterflies, beetles and moths that marked spring and summer for most of my 70 years, from Michigan to Vermont to Georgia to Oregon, all seem to have largely vanished.

But that's only part of the story.

The insect apocalypse that the world is now experiencing and the Covid pandemic are all of one cloth. We humans have exceeded the capacity of this planet that we have conquered, and it is beginning to bite us back.

For the first several hundred thousand years of human history, our population slowly grew to around 5 million people at the dawn of the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago. From that moment to 1800, our population crept up to 1 billion. The 2nd billion only took 130 years: 1930. The third billion took only 30 years: 1960. The fourth billion we hit in 15 years in 1974, and the fifth billion took only 13 years: 1987. Today we stand on the verge of 8 billion people.

As I point out in my book The Last Hours Of Ancient Sunlight, in the process of all this population growth we have consumed virtually all of the world's wild spaces. We've harvested the oceans, razed the forests, and are burning thousands of acres of the planet's jungles every hour.

In my lifetime, more than 80% of all the wild animals on Earth have vanished, and today over a million species are on the verge of extinction. Just since 1970, North America has lost about a third of all our birds. Scientists have declared an insect apocalypse; as that "bottom of our food chain" vanishes, and it's pollinators with it, it threatens the entire web of life on this planet.

Humans, and animals raised by humans for food, are now the dominant species on earth; fully 96% of all mammals on this planet are us and our livestock.

As we drive deeper and deeper into the wild spaces of Earth and simplify formerly complex ecosystems, we're encountering diseases that were only small annoyances to the animals that coevolved with them over millions of years. Now they plague us.

AIDS, SARS, Zika, dengue, West Nile, ebola, Marburg, Lyme disease: all have jumped from the wild into large portions of humanity in my lifetime. And now we have Covid.

Our single species is wiping out other species at a rate not seen since the last great extinction when the dinosaurs vanished. This is absolutely unsustainable.

Our climate, which supports human civilization as well as the diversity of life on this planet, is also collapsing purely as the result of humans burning fossil fuels.

At the same time, the industrial activity we use to support this population explosion is, itself, threatening to wipe out humanity. Human sperm counts are collapsing around the world, presumably because of manmade chemicals in our processed foods and packaging. It's so bad that in many nations human "sperm counts are set to reach zero in 2045."

There are things we can do.

Eating dramatically less meat will significantly lessen our burden on the Earth, and shifting from fossil-fuel energy sources to renewables will slow down both the way we're altering the atmosphere and cut the trillions of tons of poison we're pouring into our biosphere every year.

We must learn the respect for non-human life and the environment that indigenous people around the world have been trying to tell us about for hundreds of years. Our religions and culture must adapt, as theirs did thousands of years ago when they encountered their own biological and environmental limits.

We must set aside and work fiercely to protect what is left of the natural world now, and mobilize the world to stop the trade in wild animals, the fourth-most-trafficked product on earth behind drugs, weapons and people.

And we must empower women.

In societies were women have equal political and economic power with men, populations stabilize and, over time, tend to slowly diminish to levels in balance with their immediate ecosystems. But in societies where women are treated as men's property, populations explode. Widely available birth control technology is essential, but without cultural and religious shifts become relatively meaningless.

Most importantly, we must reform our politics to incorporate notions of sustainability and compatibility with the ecosystems from which we evolved. Policy can become our most potent tool.

Covid it is just the last in a long line of diseases that were warning signals to humanity that we've pushed beyond our natural limits. If we don't start listening and acting immediately, Covid may soon be the least of our worries.


Originally posted on


Legend 2 years 13 weeks ago

The number 1 believer in climate change is the Insurance companies. Nothing partisan about it. They do the math and realize that wildfires, and damaging weather events are increasing. I live rural in a forested area. My home insurance has doubled in a few years because of it. The chance for wildfires, hail and tornados has increased dramatically. From my home I have a view of the front range of the Rockies. I can literally see 200 miles. Every Summer the view is diminished more and more from Western wildfires. We have days in the summer when we cannot see more than a few miles because of smoke in the air. Normally earth climate changes take thousands of years. We are seeing major changes in our lifetimes.

Legend 2 years 13 weeks ago

CPAC/QANON/Proud Boys/Oath Keepers/Klu Klux Klan/Arrayan Nations/3 Percenters meeting:

Governor of SD Kristi Noem gets standing ovation for saying that Dr Fauci is wrong. She has a BA in Political Science from South Dakota State University and 26 traffic citations. She is also the Governor of the state that is number 2 (North Dakota is number 1) in cases of Covid by population.

"Nazi symbol-like stage shape[edit]

In 2021, social media users compared the shape of the stage to the Elder Futhark rune Odal (ᛟ).[34] This symbol was adopted in Nazi Germany as the badge of the SS Race and Settlement Main Office,[35] responsible for maintaining the racial purity of the Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS), as well as by the 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen, the 23rd SS Volunteer Panzer Grenadier Division Nederland, and many neo-Nazi groups worldwide.[36] The particular rendition with wings or serifs has no historical significance outside of Nazi Germany.[37] The fact-checking website Snopes was "unable to verify at the time of writing whether the allusion to the Nazi symbol was made intentionally or consciously by any CPAC organizers".[34]" From Wikipedia

deepspace's picture
deepspace 2 years 13 weeks ago

Of course the basket of despicable and deplorable Trumpian Republicans emboldened by Herr Drumpf and his overt bigotry and hate-mongering, white-supremacist attitudes and policies (his only political cache) would proudly display an obscure Nazi symbol, assuming everyone else is as dumb as they are and wouldn't notice -- and then when the jig is up, stupidly try to deny it with fake outrage.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 2 years 13 weeks ago
Legend 2 years 13 weeks ago

I have posted your Current World Population link several times. It is mind boggling to go through it. Many countries have tripled in population is 50 years or less. The continent of Africa has quadrupled in 50 years. Most will spend a life in poverty. We cannot sustain this growth.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 2 years 13 weeks ago

The math doesn't add up.

Legend 2 years 13 weeks ago

Africa today and growing 1,362,835,512. Africa in 1980 476,386,273. Okay, I was off a little at 2.8. I lived in Ethiopia in 1973 and 74. Population then was 31 million, today 117 million 3.7x increase. Nigeria is 210 million. 1970 was 56 million, 3.75x increase. That is 50 years. USA is 332 million, 1970 was 210 million so we are slower in growth at 1.58x. Look at this spreadsheet. Yearly change by country, African countries tend to be high. There are a few negatives.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 2 years 13 weeks ago

Haha, I suck at math so didn't mean my previous post to sound like it was questioning your analysis. The rate over-populating humans are consuming resources doesn't jive with Earth's ability to replenish them. It's like driving drunk at a hundred miles an hour on an almost empty tank, hoping to make it to the next gas station a hundred miles away. Ain't gonna happen.

rostasi 2 years 13 weeks ago

I wonder what Bucky Fuller would have to say if he were still around...

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