Image by Markus Spiske

CORONAVIRUS RUNS THROUGH THE ENVIRONMENT

Angelica Susio

The Coronavirus pandemic has turned the world upside down in a couple of months, but the main question is: “Could we avoid it and if yes, how?”

The majority of scientists agree that there is a link between Coronavirus and the Environment and Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said that “Nature is sending us a message”.


The probability of pandemic increases in a world where the delicate equilibrium between humans and nature is endangered by factors like climate change, biodiversity loss and overpopulation. 

Almost 75% of human infectious diseases that appeared in recent years have been transmitted through a jump from animals to humans. For example, SARS, Ebola, MERS and HIV have been transmitted in this way and this is not merely accidental. Coronavirus, in fact, was not a surprise for many scientists. In 2016, some years before the Coronavirus outbreak, UNEP declared that the increase in zoonotic epidemics was an issue to be concerned with, but this warning was not taken into consideration seriously enough.


The diffusion of these types of viruses is nothing more than the reaction of the environment towards mankind’s aggressive behavior. As Andersen said, “we are putting too much pressure at the same time on our natural systems and something has to give”. We are playing with fire, forgetting that humans and nature are part of the same interrelated system and that hurting the environment means – directly and indirectly - hurting ourselves. 


Moreover, the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) declared that those who live in polluted areas are exposed to higher risks in case of pandemic. In fact, atmospheric pollution increases the probability of respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, weakening the immunity system and making people more vulnerable in case of virus spread. 


However, we should consider Coronavirus as an opportunity for change. We should reshape our relationship with nature by reducing climate change, protecting biodiversity, stopping deforestation and the excessive exploitation of resources. Everyone should put their own effort in order to save our planet, remembering that we can all be a drop in the Ocean and can really make the difference. 

Sources:

  • Coronavirus: 'Nature is sending us a message’, says UN environment chief, The Guardian

  • Il coronavirus e il nostro futuro prossimo, Greenpeace

  • Coronaviruses: are they here to stay?, UNEP