“Every single pandemic has a link to wildlife. They are all linked to human, anthropogenic, environmental changes. They emerge through the connections we make to nature. These will happen unless we change our relationship with nature.”
Biodiversity experts, like disease ecologist Dr. Peter Daszak, who works to predict and prevent outbreaks of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19, are transforming the way we think about nature and its value on a new podcast series being launched tomorrow (8 July 2020) by the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
Last year, IPBES alerted the world to the fact that 1 million species of plants and animals now risk extinction. Now tune in each week for a new audio series: Nature Insight -Speed Dating with the Future.
Over the course of six widely varied episodes, leaders from the frontlines of biodiversity research and action, speaking in their individual expert capacities, will share cutting-edge science and vibrant personal insights about some of the most important issues facing people and the planet – starting with the links between COVID-19, nature loss and what we can do to reduce the risk of future pandemics.
“We estimate 1.7 million viruses in wildlife that could emerge in the future. Most of them won’t be able to become pandemic, but there will be lots that can,” said Dr. Daszak, emphasizing the importance of preventive measures that can protect the health of people and the rest of nature as well. “It’s just crazy to sit here and worry about this pandemic and not get ready for those others that are ready, willing and able to emerge.”
“The science tells us that we should treat each person equally in the face of this pandemic, or we’re all at risk. If the outbreak persists in any community, the outbreak persists in our community.”
Dr. Daszak stressed the direct link between human activities like consumption and production and environmental impacts – often separated geographically via global supply chains. “The things that cause pandemics are rampant economic development in countries with high biodiversity. That’s usually driven by consumption demands from the richer countries. Palm oil. Rare earth elements for our phones. This sort of thing is driving deforestation, which is a globally significant cause of pandemics.”
“We need to link it back to our behaviours…the metals that we need for a computer or a phone are now mined out of the forests of New Guinea and Africa, and some outbreaks happen in those activities. Our consumption drives this and we’re at risk.”
What can individuals do to help reduce the risk of future pandemics? Tune in to Nature Insight to find out more.
Co-hosted by Rob Spaull, Head of Communications at IPBES, and Brit Garner, Science Communicator and SciShow Psych presenter, this first IPBES podcast series features unique and diverse expert voices from the wider IPBES community.
In addition to insights on zoonotic diseases and pandemics, Nature Insight will explore biodiversity topics such as indigenous and local conservation; achieving transformative change; protecting coral reefs and coastal ecosystems in the context of climate change; the links between business and biodiversity; and the diverse ways in which communities attach different values to nature.
“Every week on Nature Insight we’re going to meet incredible individuals whose experience can help us see solutions for the future of humans and nature, but from different perspectives. We are kind of speed dating with the future,” said co-host Brit Garner.
Members of the media are welcome to preview the first episode of Nature Insight, and to report on it freely. Episode 1 may be previewed here: https://bit.ly/