A new report has been released by the United Nations environmental department that shines a light on how the world is neglecting the environmental impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The report details that a number of "zoonotic" epidemics are currently on the rise, and diseases such as Ebola to Sars to West Nile virus and Rift Valley fever are expected to jump from animals to humans in the coming years. The UN report explains that the coronavirus pandemic should stand as an example of how the environment is intricately intertwined in the safety and well being of human life. Prof Delia Grace, the lead author of the report by the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) said, "There has been so much response to Covid-19 but much of it has treated it as a medical challenge or an economic shock."
Grace continued, "But its origins are in the environment, food systems and animal health. This is a lot like having somebody sick and treating only the symptoms and not treating the underlying cause, and there are many other zoonotic diseases with pandemic potential." The UN's answer to this problem is what they call a "one health" approach, which unites human, animal, and environmental health together. This approach would entail monitoring the health of the planet and the species living on its surface, as well as the food that transports these diseases around to different locations.
Diseases expected to jump from animals to humans:
- West Nile virus
- Rift Valley fever
Doreen Robinson, Unep's chief of wildlife, said, "An intense surge in human activity is affecting the environment all across the planet, from burgeoning human settlements to [food production], to increasing mining industries. This human activity is breaking down the natural buffer that once protected people from a number of pathogens. It's critically important to get at the root causes, otherwise we will consistently just be reacting to things."
"The science is clear that if we keep exploiting wildlife and destroying our ecosystems, then we can expect to see a steady stream of these diseases jumping from animals to humans in the years ahead. The science is clear that if we keep exploiting wildlife and destroying our ecosystems, then we can expect to see a steady stream of these diseases jumping from animals to humans in the years ahead" said, UN environment chief, Inger Andersen.
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