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Our war against the environment is bringing pandemics upon us

Coronavirus is a wake-up call: our war with the environment is leading to pandemics,  The Conversation, Fiona Armstrong Executive Director, Climate and Health Alliance, Occasional Lecturer, School of Public Health and Human Biosciences, La Trobe University, Anthony Capon, Director, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Monash University, Ro McFarlane, Assistant Professor in Ecological Public Health, University of Canberra, March 31, 202  The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the world is a crisis of our own making.

That’s the message from infectious disease and environmental health experts, and from those in planetary health – an emerging field connecting human health, civilisation and the natural systems on which they depend.

They might sound unrelated, but the COVID-19 crisis and the climate and biodiversity crises are deeply connected.

Each arises from our seeming unwillingness to respect the interdependence between ourselves, other animal species and the natural world more generally.

To put this into perspective, the vast majority (three out of every four) of new infectious diseases in people come from animals – from wildlife and from the livestock we keep in ever-larger numbers.

To understand and effectively respond to COVID-19, and other novel infectious diseases we’ll likely encounter in the future, policymakers need to acknowledge and respond with “planetary consciousness”. This means taking a holistic view of public health that includes the health of the natural environment.

Risking animal-borne diseases

Biodiversity (all biological diversity from genes, to species, to ecosystems) is declining faster than at any time in human history.

We clear forests and remove habitat, bringing wild animals closer to human settlements. And we hunt and sell wildlife, often endangered, increasing the risk of disease transmission from animals to humans.

The list of diseases that have jumped from animals to humans (“zoonotic diseases”) includes HIV, Ebola, Zika, Hendra, SARS, MERS and bird flu.

Like its precursor SARS, COVID-19 is thought to have originated in bats and subsequently transmitted to humans via another animal host, possibly at a wet market trading live animals.

Ebola virus emerged in central Africa when land use changes and altered climatic conditions forced bats and chimpanzees together around concentrated areas of food resources. And Hendra virus is associated with urbanisation of fruit bats following habitat loss. Such changes are occurring worldwide.

What’s more, human-caused climate change is making this worse. Along with habitat loss, shifting climate zones are causing wildlife to migrate to new places, where they interact with other species they haven’t previously encountered. This increases the risk of new diseases emerging.

COVID-19 is just the latest new infectious disease arising from our collision with nature……. https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-is-a-wake-up-call-our-war-with-the-environment-is-leading-to-pandemics-135023

March 31, 2020 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment, health

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