comScore John Oliver Warns About the Next Pandemic and We're Not Fine | The Mary Sue

John Oliver Warns About the NEXT Pandemic and We’re Not Fine

Last Week Tonight really knows how to scare!

As expected, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver is already living in the future—and I’m not even talking about a better one. The future that Oliver is living in has even more pandemics and diseases with no end in sight. And who is at the center of it all? Who has caused the most damage to our world as a whole? Who contributed to the spread of COVID-19? Humans, that’s who.

With everyone pointing fingers at each other when it comes to the origin of COVID-19, it’s a bit jarring to realize that we’ve all played a huge role in creating this pandemic and the next one through things like deforestation. We’ve changed three quarters of Earth’s land area to feed, house, and be consumed by one species. That has blurred the boundaries between animals and man, making it so “31% of outbreaks of new and emerging diseases … are linked to deforestation.”

For example, deforestation in the Amazon rain forest has led to the ideal conditions for malaria to emerge. Mosquitoes, who carry malaria, emerge along the edges separating man from animal. Another example is bats in West Africa. Children have gotten Ebola due to bats in nearby trees. Bats, who carry Ebola, have had their natural habitats destroyed by foreign mining and timber operations, so they have nowhere to go besides entering human spaces.

And this isn’t something that solely happens abroad. It’s happened in the United States back when Lyme disease was discovered in the 1980s. Apparently, white footed mice are the carriers of Lyme disease. And as land gets transformed into living areas for humans, we’re driving away the natural predators of the white footed mouse. With no other food choice, ticks will bite the white footed mice, getting itself infected. Then they will bite humans and spread the disease that way.

That’s not even taking into account the consequences and chances of a future pandemic happening because of the exotic animal trade industry. Imagine vastly different animals from all over the world, anxious and afraid in cages that are right next to each other. One of them is a carrier of a disease and spreads it to the rest of the animals near it. A human then buys the exotic pet, endangering themselves and those around them when the disease mutates and infects the human.

Point being, we need to start working on preventative measures as soon as possible to avoid the next pandemic. We can’t just wait until it hits us and knocks us on our asses. We need to strike first and show any and all pandemics who’s the boss by reining in deforestation and exotic animal trading. And if not for the animals, do it for the human lives lost from COVID-19. They deserve to be honored by making smart choices that save lives and that doesn’t put others like them in danger.

(image: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver)

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Lyra (She/Her) is a queer Latinx writer who stans badass women in movies, TV shows, and books. She loves crafting, tostones, and speculating all over queer media. And when not writing she's scrolling through TikTok or rebuilding her book collection.