Financier and environmentalist Ben Goldsmith considers the silver linings amidst the bleak coronavirus outbreak, interviewed by Zoe Dare Hall in the Telegraph:
“Future generations will look back in disbelief at how we drove so many species to the brink of extinction to satisfy our greed, and at the industrial scale cruelty of the factory farming of animals. These places, like wet farms, are petri dishes for the cultivation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and potentially dangerous viruses,” says Goldsmith.
As founder and chairman of the Conservation Collective, a network of local philanthropic funds across the world from the Greek islands to the Grenadines, he is a passionate campaigner for environmental preservation and restoration.
He harnesses the dedication of local campaigners – “Look behind the scenes and there are people beavering away, often with no budget, in their free time” – and the pulling power of high-profile names, including Mick Jagger in Mustique and John Frieda in Ibiza, to bring about change.
“With environmental philanthropy, very modest sums can make massive change if you give it to the right people. This year, we’ll give away £500,000, broadly for marine conservation projects, landscape conservation and the management of resources including energy, water,” says Goldsmith.
The coronavirus pandemic is already bringing about some environmental changes, however, as widespread travel bans and curfews force billions of people to change their daily habits. “There are streets with no cars and no air pollution. Shutting down cities in Asia has meant people can see blue sky for the first time. Canals in Venice are now clear and you can see fish. Maybe things like this will play a part in changing our relationship with nature,” says Goldsmith.