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Top scientists warn of frequent pandemic outbreaks bearing upon nature’s ill treatment

Since the influenza outbreak of 1918, COVID-19 is the 6th pandemic beset by human activities. The world is in an “era of pandemics” and they will surface more often lest human beings refrain from exploiting nature and biodiversity including deforestation which is a major cause of pandemic outbreaks, say leading scientists.

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21st century is likely to observe more pandemics, given the exhaustive measures humans are imposing upon nature and the havoc brought by such corrupt practices will only account for recurrent deaths and decay in the human condition, said the United Nations’ biodiversity panel on Thursday.

Why pandemics might occur oftentimes?

There are up to 850,000 viruses like the novel coronavirus which exist in animals and a multitude of them are capable to affect human beings once transmitted into the human body, informed the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) adding that pandemics represented an “existential threat” to humanity.

“The science is not in dispute at all about this. Deforestation is a prime driver of pandemics,” said Lee Hannah who is a climate scientist for Conservation International and specializes in the effects of forest loss. He peer-reviewed the report compiled at a virtual workshop by the IPBES in July.

Habitat Loss, Fragmentation, and Destruction
Image credit: medium.com

As claimed by authors of the special report on biodiversity and pandemics, habitat destruction and voracious consumption has made animal-borne diseases far more probable to ascend into the human body in the coming years.

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“There is no great mystery about the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic or any modern pandemic,” said Peter Daszak, chairperson of the IPBES workshop and president of the Ecohealth Alliance that drafted the report.

He added, “The same human activities that drive climate change and biodiversity loss also drive pandemic risk though their impacts on our agriculture.” The panel pronounced that Covid-19 was the 6th pandemic since the influenza outbreak of 1918, all of which had been “entirely driven by human activities.”

How habitat destruction and consequent disease are related?

Zoonotic diseases that emerge from animals including COVID-19, influenza, Ebola, Zika, HIV viruses originate from microorganisms existent in the wild that can infect humans. Primates, rodents, bats and birds are their common carriers.

Bavarian Nordic (@BavarianNordic) | টুইটার
Image Credit: CDC

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has also been traced to a Chinese wet market in the city of Wuhan that may have been the original source of COVID-19 outbreak amongst humans. Scientists have estimated that there are over 1.7 million viruses hitherto undiscovered, that skulk in birds and mammals, half of which may be potent enough to infect humanity. It’s not mere coincidence that pandemics are growing as human activities lay pressure on the environment and bring human beings in closer vicinity with wildlife.

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COVID-19: Animals, birds roam freely on streets amid lockdown - Republic World
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How deforestation conduces pandemics?

Scientists have been prompting that widespread deforestation can pave the way to infectious diseases. Forests include highly dense biodiversity and therefore provide greater opportunities for disease carriers to thrive. Deforestation acts as a means of habitat loss and exodus of disease-carrying wildlife towards human civilizations. Destroying wildlife’s natural habitat can also lead animals into new territories, says the report, forcing primates, bats, birds and others to find dwelling places in urban areas. For instance, in Brazilian Amazon, forests are often cut to spawn grazing grounds for cattle. Cattle in turn, might act as intermediaries between infected wildlife and humans who are surrounded by livestock.

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Image Credit: The New York Times

Human beings certainly have to revise their approach towards nature and biodiversity through surrendering exhaustive measures to comply with sustainable ways. Nature has to be fairly treated in order for us to procure a healthy life for upcoming generations and to steer clear of the impending doom.

Read: 10 Headlines From The Pre-Pandemic 2020 That Feel Like They Happened Ages Ago

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