We are responsible for the ongoing crisis; let’s change ourselves now… or never
The emergence of COVID-19 has underscored the fact that when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life. The more bio-diverse an ecosystem is, the more difficult it is for one pathogen to spread rapidly or dominate; whereas, biodiversity loss provides opportunity for pathogens to pass between animals and people.
Human actions, including deforestation, encroachment on wildlife habitats, intensified agriculture, and acceleration of climate change, have upset the delicate balance of nature. We have changed the system that would naturally protect us, and have created conditions that allow particular pathogens–including coronaviruses–to spread.
Today, it is estimated that, globally, about one billion cases of illness and millions of deaths occur every year from diseases caused by coronaviruses; and about 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic, meaning that they are transmitted to people by animals. Nature is sending us a message.
IT’S TIME FOR NATURE: COVID-19 provides us an opportunity to both revisit our relationship with nature and rebuild a more environmentally responsible world. Addressing zoonotic disease emergence requires addressing its root cause–primarily, the impact of human activities. As the global population approaches 10 billion, we need to better understand the web of life in which we live and appreciate that it functions as a whole system. It is time to reimagine our relationship with nature and put nature at the heart of our decision-making.