How to create a pandemic

“As habitat and biodiversity loss increase globally, the coronavirus outbreak may be just the beginning of mass pandemics.”

A new discipline, planetary health, is emerging that focuses on the increasingly visible connections between the wellbeing of humans, other living things and entire ecosystems.

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There has been a lot of coverage of the ‘benefits’ to our health and to the health of the wider environment which the current coronavirus crisis has brought – as also covered on these pages:

Dramatic drops in air pollution

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Whilst we have seen how the negative impacts of our activities can be reversed, there are fears that a ‘return to normal’ will simply see a return to those same negative impacts:

Coronavirus: the impact on the environment

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This week’s Horizon programme on BBC Two looked at the likely scenario – that we will be having more such viral outbreaks:

Coronavirus Special – Part 2 | bbc.co.uk

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The science is clear, as reported in today’s Telegraph:

The number of diseases crossing from animals to humans is growing…

What is coronavirus, how did it start and how big could it get? | telegraph.co.uk

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The media had picked up on this two months ago:

Coronavirus is just the start: Scientists warn there will be more diseases like this in the future and the next pandemic is a case of ‘when not if’ | dailymail.co.uk

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As reported then by Scientific American:

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Destroyed Habitat Creates the Perfect Conditions for Coronavirus to Emerge

COVID-19 may be just the beginning of mass pandemics

“As habitat and biodiversity loss increase globally, the coronavirus outbreak may be just the beginning of mass pandemics”

Only a decade or two ago it was widely thought that tropical forests and intact natural environments teeming with exotic wildlife threatened humans by harbouring the viruses and pathogens that lead to new diseases in humans such as Ebola, HIV and dengue.

But a number of researchers today think that it is actually humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases such as Covid-19, the viral disease that emerged in China in December 2019, to arise – with profound health and economic impacts in rich and poor countries alike. In fact, a new discipline, planetary health, is emerging that focuses on the increasingly visible connections between the wellbeing of humans, other living things and entire ecosystems.

“We invade tropical forests and other wild landscapes, which harbour so many species of animals and plants – and within those creatures, so many unknown viruses,” David Quammen, author of Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Pandemic, recently wrote in the New York Times. “We cut the trees; we kill the animals or cage them and send them to markets. We disrupt ecosystems, and we shake viruses loose from their natural hosts. When that happens, they need a new host. Often, we are it.”

Destroyed Habitat Creates the Perfect Conditions for Coronavirus to Emerge | scientificamerican.com 

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The latest research reported by the Independent goes further:

Coronavirus: Industrial animal farming has caused most new infectious diseases and risks more pandemics, experts warn | independent.co.uk

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This is not sustainable, as reported by the International Science Council:

Unsustainability and Pandemics: Exploring the relationship and finding the crucial underlying factor | ingsa.org

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Perhaps we can do something:

Reducing car use after lockdown

Clean Growth for Sidmouth 2020

   
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