Protecting Nature Is Vital to Escape ‘Era of Pandemics’ – Report

Regenerated palm oil trees growing on the site of a destroyed tropical rainforest in Kuala Cenaku, Riau province, as deforestation continues in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photograph: Dimas Ardian/Getty

The world is in an “era of pandemics” and unless the destruction of the natural world is halted they will emerge more often, spread more rapidly, kill more people and affect the global economy with more devastating impact than ever before, according to a report from some of the world’s leading scientists.

The emergence of diseases such as Covid-19, bird flu and HIV from animals was entirely driven by the razing of wild places for farming and the trade in wild species, which brought people into contact with the dangerous microbes, the experts said.

“The risk of pandemics is increasing rapidly, with more than five new diseases emerging in people every year, any one of which has the potential to become pandemic,” the report says.

It estimates there are more than 500,000 unknown viruses in mammals and birds that could infect humans.

The current approach to disease outbreaks is trying to contain them and develop treatments or vaccines, which the scientists say is a “slow and uncertain path”. Instead the root causes must be tackled, including stopping the demolition of forests to produce meat, palm oil, metals and other commodities for richer countries. Read more…

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