Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the United Nations warned that further exploitation of nature and destruction of ecosystems can only bring about another pandemic. The occurrence of another epidemic is possible because of how we relate to the environment and how our habits of animal exploitation and even our diets affect the environment. This pandemic could have been avoided if we had modified the way we relate to the environment and, in this sense, finding a balance with the environment will be the key to preventing new outbreaks of infection. The UN says that if we continue to relate to nature in this way, we can only expect more animal-borne infectious diseases.
Alarming figuresTheinfectious diseases that have most affected humans come from animals: Ebola in monkeys, avian influenza in waterfowl and poultry, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in bats and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome in dromedaries.
This means that approximately 75 percent of infectious diseases contracted by humans come from animals. Each year, these diseases claim the lives of more than 2 million people, especially in low-income countries. The UN states that pandemics wipe out populations and cause considerable loss of money. A change in our practices to find a balance with nature could prevent another infectious outbreak.
What measures should we take?The main problem in the spread of any infectious virus from animals to humans lies in the destruction of ecosystems for livestock production.
This leads to a rapprochement between wild and domestic animals that puts at risk the health of humans who ingest beef, pork and chicken that have had contact with wild animals carrying the virus. The increase in animal meat consumption only emphasizes this problem. On the other hand, illegal hunting and the consumption of exotic animal meat have an even greater impact on the spread of infectious diseases, and the relationship between humans and the environment must change immediately to achieve a better balance. As for the measures that need to be taken, the most important are
- The prohibition of the destruction of ecosystems
- Rebuilding lost biodiversity
- Avoid funding practices that destroy biodiversity
This would reduce one of the main routes of infection. For the time being, the Chinese city of Shenzhen, where the spread of SARS originated, has decided to ban hunting and consumption of wild animals permanently. Ultimately, the main measure to stop the behaviors that harm nature, and consequently human beings, is to educate the population and raise awareness about the repercussions that can exist in the long and short term, promoting the balance between man and the environment.