Friday 10 April 2020


In a recent article in “The Guardian”, Inger Andersen, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, said Nature is sending humanity a message because we were placing too many pressures on the natural world with damaging consequences.

These consequences include serious environmental problems such as habitat and biodiversity loss as well as a multiplicity of impacts from climate change - and the spread of new diseases.

“Never before have so many opportunities existed for pathogens to pass from wild and domestic animals to people,” she said.

She noted that 75% of all emerging infectious diseases come from wildlife because our continued erosion of wild spaces brings us close to animals and plants that can harbour diseases that can jump to humans.

In recent years Ebola, bird flu, Mers, Rift Valley fever, Sars, West Nile fever and Zika virus are infectious diseases which have all crossed from animals to humans.

She says that there are too many pressures on our natural systems and “something has to give.”
“We are intimately interconnected with nature, whether we like it or not.  If we don’t take care of nature, we can’t take care of ourselves.  As we hurtle towards a population of 10 billion people on this planet, we need to go into this future armed with nature as our strongest ally.”

It is believed that the source of the Covid19 outbreak was a market in China.  China has banned such markets but experts such as Professor Andrew Cunningham of the Zoological Society of London want this ban to be permanent.  He believes the ban needs to be global as there are similar markets in sub-Saharan Africa and many Asian markets other than those in China.

Cunningham pointed out that although the Sars outbreak of 2002-03 was a massive wake-up call that should have brought about significant change, it unfortunately resulted in a business as usual approach once the epidemic finished.

He hopes this will not happen with Covid19.

Perhaps the significant health, social and economic effects we are already seeing from Covid19 will lead to change.
            - Leonie Blain

 This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on March 30,  2020.