The prevention of future pandemics must be a collective effort by the world, but China has a crucial role to play
The country must adopt a more environmentally sustainable development model, and it can start by relearning Taoist teachings
Taoism must be the greenest religion in the world. Dating from more than 1,800 years ago, China’s only indigenous religion emphasises harmony between mankind and nature. Its central concept is the Tao, which is usually translated as “the Way”, and also means “path” or “principle”. It advocates taking a holistic approach, respecting the natural order, and letting things take their natural course. The Way of Heaven is the way of nature; it is not purposive human activity but non-interference.
But this should have surprised no one. An expanding human population, industrialisation and urbanisation at breakneck speed have disturbed the ecology, and our continued erosion of wild space has brought humans uncomfortably close to animals. As a result, more zoonoses – diseases transmitted from animals to humans – have emerged around the world in the past two decades.