President Biden’s decision to order the intelligence community to report on the origins of the virus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic means that the lab-escape scenario can no longer be dismissed as a conspiracy theory. The longer that investigations failed to find evidence of the politically favored zoonotic-transmission route, the stronger became the lab-escape scenario as the more plausible explanation. For it is reasonable to assume that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has done everything in its power to help World Health Organization (WHO) investigators uncover evidence to support zoonotic origins of the virus and to have suppressed all available evidence pointing to the possibility of lab escape.
In this regard, Beijing has been assisted by spinners of a spurious green narrative that blames modern society’s encroachment on the natural world for the pandemic. First and foremost, there is the WHO and its director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in what increasingly looks like an attempt at a false-flag operation on behalf of the CCP. “The pandemic is a reminder of the intimate and delicate relationship between people and planet,” Tedros declared a year ago. “Any efforts to make our world safer are doomed to fail unless they address the critical interface between people and pathogens.” By that, however, the WHO chief wasn’t referring to safety in laboratories and the interaction between scientists and pathogens when carrying out high-risk gain-of-function experiments on coronaviruses. Remember, the WHO was tasked with carrying out a thorough, impartial, objective investigation into the origins of the pandemic, but it already knew that the source of the virus was natural transmission nine months before WHO investigators stepped foot in Wuhan.
Then there are people who act as Beijing’s useful idiots, to borrow from Lenin. At the One Planet summit in January, British prime minister Boris Johnson was telling fellow world leaders not to forget that “the coronavirus pandemic was the product of an imbalance in man’s relationship with the natural world.” He rather spoiled the effect by observing that the plague that struck the ancient Greeks in Book One of the Iliad was a zoonotic disease. If the Trojan War three millennia ago was the cause of imbalances with nature, what chance is there for modern civilization? Seven months earlier, Prince Charles was blaming Covid on biodiversity loss. “We’ve had these other disasters with SARS and Ebola and goodness knows what else, all of these things are related to the loss of biodiversity,” the heir to the British throne claimed in a TV interview.
Pope Francis was more enigmatic when asked whether he saw an opening for an ecological conversion from the economic devastation of the pandemic. “There is an expression in Spanish,” the Pope replied. “‘God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives.’” The pandemic as just punishment, perhaps? And there’s always John Kerry. “Yes, climate change is a threat multiplier for pandemic diseases, and zoonotic diseases,” the former Secretary of State and now President Biden’s climate envoy wrote on Earth Day last year. Lots of green political capital rides on natural transmission as the source of the Covid pandemic.
The corollary is green opposition to humanity’s efforts to protect itself from, in the Pope’s words, unforgiving nature. Malaria is one of the oldest of human afflictions, the medical historian Frank Snowden writes in “Epidemics and Society,” and probably responsible for the greatest burden of illness in all human history. Though not a magic bullet, the insecticide DDT was remarkably successful in eradicating malaria in Europe and North America. A decade after DDT was demonized by Rachel Carson in her 1962 book “Silent Spring,” Richard Nixon’s newly created Environment Protection Agency banned the use of DDT on the eve of the first UN environment conference in Stockholm. The EPA ban “most certainly contributed to death in malarial countries by denying them access to this life-saving pesticide,” authors Roger Bate and Richard Tren write in their 2001 study on DDT and malaria. In the run-up to the 2001 Stockholm convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which severely restricts the use of DDT, environmental NGOs lobbied for a total ban on DDT. Greenpeace even called this pesticide with the potential to save millions of lives in sub-Saharan Africa a “dangerous life-threatening chemical.”
Society holds ambiguous views about science and scientists. On the one hand, scientists are seekers of scientific truths and purveyors of miracle cures, the Covid vaccines being outstanding examples. On the other, scientists interfere in nature (fear of GMOs and almost anything labelled a “chemical” is what drives Greenpeace’s business model) and carry out mad experiments in their labs that risk destroying the world. What would be the fallout if the Covid lab-leak scenario proved to be correct? asks British journalist Ian Birrell, one of the few who has consistently pursued the lab-leak story. “It would shake science to its foundations for carrying out risky research despite clear warnings of the dangers and then collaborating in an epic whitewash,” Birrell believes.
Contrary to their public image, climate scientists are not models of scientific objectivity and truth-telling, free from the taint of bias and uncontaminated by politics or ideology; theoretical physicist Steve Koonin makes this clear in his new book. At the climatologists’ behest, a huge societal experiment is now underway. Nothing like net-zero has been attempted before, and it is highly improbable that it will prove successful. Nonetheless, we’re all bound to discover what it’s like to be microscopic organisms in a climate scientist’s petri dish, because, according to the White House, it’s what the science demands.
Rupert Darwall is a senior fellow of the RealClear Foundation and author of Green Tyranny.