By Pat McKrill
Ok, so we’re into 1984. Er, sorry, 2020, and it’s all happening. I’m not talking world wars here, folks, the arrival of a shipload of Martians on the lawn or a Guy Fawkes of destructive global implosions (those we’ve been anticipating since Donald Trump discovered Twitter).
No, I’m talking something quite different that will certainly, for most of us anyway, remain a milestone in our lifetimes.
Who would (could) have predicted the current worldwide panic over a virus that allegedly started in a food market in China changing the way the modern world operates, shutting down entire countries, as it goes?
For me, the Orwellian monster which goes by the name Covid-19 is hard to understand.
Where do snakes fit into the Covid-19 story?
Until recently, I would have thought nowhere, really.
This horror story that’s spreading about the world at the speed of light is making anything half as antisocial that snakes might have done over the past 130 million years look like child’s play.
Now, hot off the Google press, and despite contradictory rebuffs from other scientists, a group of overseas researchers has suggested that a new strain of coronavirus could have come from snakes in China.
They’ve even named one of their alleged culprits, the Taipan, a renowned Asian snake with a deadly venom, not specifically designed to kill man.
Death from snakes has generally been accepted to have resulted from the targeted action on the part of the snake – feeding or defending.
Many years ago there was a contention that snakes were responsible for the transmission of a horse-flu virus (I’m not sure how), resulting in legislation designed to prevent their transportation from province to province (do snakes have passports?), but I’ve never seen that substantiated.
How about some of the other nasties doing the rounds? Could snakes be responsible for rabies. malaria, HIV, cancer or TB?
Nothing proven yet, but now they’re trying to tell us that snakes could have had something to do with this new virus! Surprise, surprise.
Why blame the things we’re killing when an unplanned problem ultimately materialises?
We should blame ourselves for manufacturing the environment in which what we’ve created thrives and multiplies.
Perhaps we should consider apologising to those who unwittingly get sucked into our get-sick-quick scheme.
Aside from the snakes’ key function as an environmental control agent on this planet, the medical benefits we can derive from the rational study of this marvel of nature will far outweigh the gratuitous and limited rewards we might derive from their abuse.