Why we are just as much to blame for Covid 19 as we are for Global Warming
Science is now as unanimous about the causes of Global Pandemics as it is about the causes of Global Warming.
Some of the Science.
‘Since 2017, another coronavirus – emerging, like the Covid-19 and SARS viruses, from horseshoe bats – has been triggering deadly outbreaks among piglets in China. In the laboratory, the new bug appears to have the genetic potential to infect human airway and intestinal cells. ‘
‘We develop a multi‐host model for pathogen transmission between species inhabiting intact and converted habitat. Interspecies contacts and host populations vary with the proportion of land converted; enabling us to quantify infection risk across a changing landscape. In a range of scenarios, the highest spillover risk occurs at intermediate levels of habitat loss, whereas the largest, but rarest, epidemics occur at extremes of land conversion. This framework provides insights into the mechanisms driving disease emergence and spillover during land conversion. The finding that the risk of spillover is highest at intermediate levels of habitat loss provides important guidance for conservation and public health policy.’
“There is a single species that is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic – us. As with the climate and biodiversity crises, recent pandemics are a direct consequence of human activity – particularly our global financial and economic systems, based on a limited paradigm that prizes economic growth at any cost. “
“It’s pretty well established that deforestation can be a strong driver of infectious disease transmission,” says Andy MacDonald, a disease ecologist at the Earth Research Institute of the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It’s a numbers game: The more we degrade and clear forest habitats, the more likely it is that we’re going to find ourselves in these situations where epidemics of infectious diseases occur.”
‘ the same factors that mitigate environmental risks—reducing the demands we place on nature by optimizing consumption, shortening and localizing supply chains, substituting animal proteins with plant proteins, decreasing pollution—are likely to help mitigate the risk of pandemics’.
‘The emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 appears to be related to urbanization, habitat destruction, live animal trade, intensive livestock farming and global travel.
.. Health threats due to human impacts on Earth may appear to be of less immediate concern: climate change, pollution, urbanisation and unsustainable consumption that have led to major environmental disturbances and biodiversity loss.
In fact, neither climate change nor other environmental stressors and their impacts on human and ecosystems health have receded. Furthermore, the COVID-19 crisis highlights the links between environmental changes and emergence of infectious diseases and warns us of the urgent need to prevent such pandemics, as their control has proven to be highly challenging in a globalized world. This calls for a planetary health perspective in governance and research and for inter-, trans-disciplinary and trans-sectorial approaches’
‘In the same spirit, in a Science Alert article (Ramon 2020), ecologist David Lapola warns that the next pandemic could come from the Amazon rainforest since human encroachment on animals’ habitats—a likely culprit in the coronavirus outbreak—is soaring there because of rampant deforestation.
In a similar vein, Afelt et al. (2018)—even before the current COVID-19 crisis—linked deforestation with the emergence of coronaviruses and novel infectious diseases, and Zimmer (2019) indicated that scientific evidence suggests that deforestation is leading to more infectious diseases in humans.’
“But as we enter a new century, this unprecedented consumer appetite is undermining the natural systems we all depend on, and making it even harder for the world’s poor to meet their basic needs.”
The report addresses the devastating toll on the Earth’s water supplies, natural resources, and ecosystems exacted by a plethora of disposable cameras, plastic garbage bags, and other cheaply made goods with built in product-obsolescence, and cheaply made manufactured goods that lead to a “throw away” mentality.
“Most of the environmental issues we see today can be linked to consumption,” said Gary Gardner, director of research for Worldwatch.
“Even the World Economic Forum, which is captive of dangerous greenwashing propaganda (Bakan, 2020), now recognizes biodiversity loss as one of the top threats to the global economy (World Economic Forum, 2020).
The emergence of a long-predicted pandemic (Daily and Ehrlich, 1996a), likely related to biodiversity loss, poignantly exemplifies how that imbalance is degrading both human health and wealth (Austin, 2020; Dobson et al., 2020; Roe et al., 2020).
With three-quarters of new infectious diseases resulting from human-animal interactions, environmental degradation via climate change, deforestation, intensive farming, bushmeat hunting, and an exploding wildlife trade mean that the opportunities for pathogen-transferring interactions are high (Austin, 2020; Daszak et al., 2020).
That much of this degradation is occurring in Biodiversity Hotspots where pathogen diversity is also highest (Keesing et al., 2010), but where institutional capacity is weakest, further increases the risk of pathogen release and spread (Austin, 2020; Schmeller et al., 2020).”
“The world is facing 3 major crises today: the loss of biodiversity, climate change & the pandemic,” says biologist Cristián Samper at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. “They are all interrelated, with many of the same causes and solutions”..
We’ve been ravaging the planet’s ecosystems for too long, but crucial decisions this year could be the turning point that help us restore our relationship with nature
‘Because of our broken relationship with nature, these events are already happening more frequently: more than 335 emerging infectious disease outbreaks were reported worldwide from 1940 to 2004 – over 50 per decade.
The next novel virus that we encounter could be both highly transmissible and highly virulent – leading to an immediate existential threat for much of humanity (Jones et al, 2008).’
‘Dr Peter Daszak and Dr William Karesh from EcoHealth Alliance highlight how climate change and pandemic risk are interconnected; all the solutions already identified to tackle global warming will also help prevent the next virus from jumping.‘
“The reason roads are being built in the rainforests of Indonesia is to supply palm oil,”
‘Three quarters of the emerging pathogens that infect humans leaped from animals, many of them creatures in the forest habitats that we are slashing and burning to create land for crops, including biofuel plants, and for mining and housing. The more we clear, the more we come into contact with wildlife that carries microbes well suited to kill us—and the more we concentrate those animals in smaller areas where they can swap infectious microbes, raising the chances of novel strains.
…In addition, we have to examine factory farms that pack thousands of animals together—the source of the 2009 swine flu outbreak that killed more than 10,000 people in the U.S. and multitudes worldwide.‘
‘Zoonotic host diversity increases in human-dominated ecosystems
Our results suggest that global changes in the mode and the intensity of land use are creating expanding hazardous interfaces between people, livestock and wildlife reservoirs of zoonotic disease.’ ( Nature)
“We’ve been warning about this for decades,” says Kate Jones, an ecological modeller at University College London and an author on the study, published on 5 August in Nature1. “Nobody paid any attention.”
Timeline of pandemics and other viruses that humans caught by interacting with animals
Three years ago, an article published by the US National Centre for Biotechnology Information stated, presciently:
“The Aids and influenza pandemics have claimed and will continue to claim millions of lives. The recent Sars and Ebola epidemics have threatened populations across borders. The emergence of Mers may well be warning signals of a nascent pandemic threat.”
Deforestation is leading to more infectious diseases in humans
“As more and more forest is cleared around the world, scientists fear that the next deadly pandemic could emerge from what lives within them.”
‘For example, fires in Indonesia caused by slash-and-burn deforestation during an El-Niño related drought in 1997-1998, may have resulted in the emergence of the Nipah virus, which caused more than 100 deaths in nearby Malaysia. The fires on the islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra consumed more than 5 million hectares of forest, generating a regional haze that spread to peninsular Malaysia, where it inhibited agricultural yields and the fruiting of forest trees. This in turn may have reduced food sources for foraging fruit bats, leading them to seek alternative sources of food on farms, where the virus transmitted from the bats to pigs, and ultimately to humans.’
‘Since the first animal-to-human infection, yellow fever, was identified in 1901, scientists have found at least another 200 viruses known to cause disease in humans. According to research by Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, new species of viruses are being discovered at a rate of three to four a year. The majority of them originate from animals.
Experts say the rising number of emerging viruses is largely the result of ecological destruction and wildlife trade.
As their natural habitats disappear, animals like rats, bats, and insects survive where larger animals get wiped out. They’re able to live alongside human beings and are frequently suspected of being the vectors that can carry new diseases to humans.’
‘Nipah virus is endemic to fruit bats which live in Southeast Asia. The virus does not affect them, but they carry it and can spread it through their bodily fluids, like saliva or urine. While wild fruit bats are used to searching the forest for wild figs or nectar, an entire orchard is a far easier food supply for them and fresh mangoes are, well, ripe for the picking.
On the index farm, the orchards were planted so closely to the pig enclosures that bits of fruit nibbled by the bats fell into the pigs’ pens, a sweet-looking snack which created the perfect opportunity for a bat virus to pass on to pigs and, later, people.‘
‘Disease X’. World Heath Organisation 2018
‘Most of these emerging diseases and practically all pandemics including influenza, HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19, are caused by microbes in animals which “spill over” after repeated contact between wildlife, livestock, and people. Combined with highly interconnected globalised economies and rapid transport, this makes pandemics a rapidly growing risk.‘