Scientists unveil a plan to prevent the next pandemic (and save nature at the same time)

by Shannon Osaka, Grist


  • Preventing forest destruction, ending wildlife trading, and surveillance measures on emerging diseases before they spread are the tactics scientists are hoping will prevent the next pandemic, as published in the nature journal Science
  • Forest destruction, particularly in tropical areas, causes animals to venture into human-populated areas in search of a new habitat to call home, increasing the risk of human to animal disease transfer
  • Wildlife is sometimes sold near livestock, creating an environment where species to species diseases can be spread
  • Many policies are being passed to keep high-risk animals that are likely to carry diseases out of food markets
  • Aaron Bernstein, a contributing author of the paper, recommends governments monitor disease “hot spots” and administer tests on people who regularly work with livestock
  • The total costs for these prevention efforts could be between $22 and $31 billion a year
    • Comparatively, government spending on the pandemic worldwide has cost over $9 trillion
  • These prevention efforts would also yield environmental benefits such as the preservation of tropical forests that help sequester carbon from the atmosphere

Preserving and managing wildlands for carbon sequestration and resilience is a key strategy in The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform.

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‘Tip of the iceberg’: Is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19?

by John Vidal, The Guardian


As humans continue to encroach on wildland for development, the exposure to more zoonotic diseases increases, which could cause more pandemics: 

  • As more people log, mine, and develop roads and towns in tropic forests and other important wildlife habitats, humans increase their chances of contracting diseases and unknown viruses
  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that three-quarters of new or emerging diseases that infect humans originate in animals
  • Zoonotic diseases that have infected humans in the past include ebola, SARS, MERS, rabies, lyme, and the plague
  • In 2008 researchers identified 335 diseases that emerged within the last 50 years and around 60% came from animals
  • Diseases are likely to spring up in both natural and urban environments as densely packed cities have bats and rodent populations that can carry viruses
  • “Wet markets” around the world selling wild animals and bushmeat along with produce have mass potential to be large hosts of various pathogens and zoonotic diseases 

The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that we ignore the science at our own peril and early action saves lives.  To avert dire consequences in-state and to inspire greater climate action worldwide, California must accelerate its climate leadership and policy timelines now.

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