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Researchers say our destruction of nature could be responsible for the coronavirus


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Outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Ebola, Sars, bird flu and now the coronavirus (Covid-19) are on the rise. These infectious diseases are crossing from animals to humans and, as we can see from Covid-19, can spread quickly to new places around the world with extreme health and economic impacts in both rich and poor countries.

"I am not at all surprised about the coronavirus outbreak," said disease ecologist Thomas Gillespie to the Guardian. "The majority of pathogens are still to be discovered. We are at the very tip of the iceberg."


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

More and more researchers today think that it is humanity's disruption, development and destruction of pristine forests and biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and infectious diseases such as Covid-19 to arise. This new emerging scientific discipline is called ‘planetary health’ and it focuses on the increasingly visible and real connections between the wellbeing of humans and animals as well as entire ecosystems.

Humanity's development and the destruction of forests driven by logging, mining, road building, rapid urbanisation and population growth is bringing more and more people into closer contact with animal species that we humans may never have been near before. Thus, these researchers are now saying that it is possible that it was human activity that has triggered epidemics such as Ebola and the latest new terrors.

"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."


It may have started with a bat in a cave, but human activity set it loose.

What do you think, is our destruction of nature responsible for the coronavirus and other infectious diseases?

UN’s environment chief, Inger Andersen, says that “nature is sending us a message” with the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. 


Exclusive: Destruction of wildlife and the climate crisis is hurting humanity, with Covid-19 a ‘clear warning shot’, say experts

The Guardian reports that Andersen said that the long-term response to the coronavirus pandemic “must tackle habitat and biodiversity loss” while noting that “never before have so many opportunities existed for pathogens to pass from wild and domestic animals to people.”

“Our continued erosion of wild spaces has brought us uncomfortably close to animals and plants that harbour diseases that can jump to humans,” she said. And it’s not just the coronavirus outbreak that is a worrying sign. Andersen said that other environmental impacts – such as the recent Australian heatwave and bushfires, new heat records, as well as the huge locust invasion in Africa – are all related to each other.  “At the end of the day, [with] all of these events, nature is sending us a message,” Anderson warned.

"There are too many pressures at the same time on our natural systems and something has to give," she added. "We are intimately interconnected with nature, whether we like it or not. If we don’t take care of nature, we can’t take care of ourselves."

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