Half of 2020 is already over, but the world is still struggling to cope with a global health crisis. The coronavirus pandemic broke out in December last year and has already infected over 8 million people and claimed over 4 lakh lives worldwide. The scariest part? The virus is still rapidly spreading throughout the world.
This isn't the first pandemic humanity is facing and it probably won't be the last. That is unless we stop illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade as well as the devastation of forests and other wild places. According to global leaders at the United Nations (UN), World Health Organisation (WHO), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), pandemics such as coronavirus are the results of humanity’s destruction of nature.
In an article published in The Guardian, these leaders called for a green and healthy recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, by reforming destructive farming and unsustainable diets.
“The risk of a new [wildlife-to-human] disease emerging in the future is higher than ever, with the potential to wreak havoc on health, economies and global security,” stated a report published by WWF on Wednesday. In fact, the world's leading biodiversity experts have warned that even more deadly disease outbreaks are likely in the future unless the rampant destruction of the natural world is rapidly halted, reports The Guardian.
The WWF report also stated that 60-70% of the new diseases that have emerged in humans since 1990 came from wildlife. “We have seen many diseases emerge over the years such as Zika, Aids, Sars and Ebola and they all originated from animal populations under conditions of severe environmental pressures,” stated an article authored by Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, head of the UN convention on biological diversity, Maria Neira, the World Health Organization director for environment and health, and Marco Lambertini, head of WWF International.
So, how do we reverse years of environmental destruction? “We must embrace a just, healthy and green recovery and kickstart a wider transformation towards a model that values nature as the foundation for a healthy society. Not doing so, and instead attempting to save money by neglecting environmental protection, health systems, and social safety nets, has already proven to be a false economy. The bill will be paid many times over,” they stated.
The WWF report urged all governments to introduce and enforce laws to eliminate the destruction of nature from supply chains of goods and the public to make their diets more sustainable.
The experts have warned us--but will global leaders take heed? Only time will tell.