World Environment Day 2021: COVID-19 Will Not Be The Last Pandemic, Says Environmentalist Chandra Bhushan | Environment

June 5, 2021 0 Comments



Destruction of the environment results in the outbreak of zoonotic diseases: Chandra Bhushan, Environmentalist and CEO, iFOREST

Highlights
  • Human health, environment and ecosystem are interrelated: Mr Bhushan
  • Last 20 years, the world has already witnessed three pandemics
  • The frequency of pandemic is increasing with environment degradation

New Delhi: World Environment Day 2021 marks the launch of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a 10-year push to halt and reverse the decline of the natural world. United Nations Environment Programme defines an ecosystem as a place where plants, animals and other organisms, in conjunction with the landscape around them, come together to form the web of life. Ecosystems can be large, like a forest, or small, like a pond. However, in the recent past, human activities have destroyed many ecosystems that have resulted in the outbreak of numerous diseases and pandemics.

Also Read: Opinion: At War With The Ecology- The COVID-19 Pandemic Is The Biggest Environmental Crisis Precipitated By Humans

Destruction Of Ecosystem And The Emergence Of Pandemics

According to Chandra Bhushan, CEO, International Forum for Environment, Sustainability and Technology (iFOREST), there is a very close linkage between human health, the environment and the ecosystem. In fact, he says that there is a link between the destruction of the environment and the emergence of pandemics.

In an interview with NDTV, Mr Bhushan explained the emergence of zoonotic diseases (which spill over from animals to humans) as a result of the destruction of the environment. He said,

One of the fundamental reasons for zoonotic diseases historically has been the destruction of environment and ecosystems. For example, it is generally believed that many of the zoonotic diseases including Zika, Nipah, West Nile fever and Rift Valley fever happened because of animal and humans coming in contact with each other because of deforestation. There are other reasons why zoonotic diseases occur and one of the fundamental reasons is the practice of eating exotic animals. For example, COVID-19 is also possibly linked with the eating of exotic animals. And then the third factor for zoonotic is when we start producing animal food in a very intensive manner by pumping antibiotics and other things. For instance, Swine Flu is linked to pig farms. Now, all three factors are related to the destruction of the environment or are intervention in the ecosystem.

The COVID-19 pandemic is also said to be a result of human invasion into the environment and the ecosystem. With biodiversity lapsing and the environment degrading, the world is in danger of having more pandemics in the near future.

Also Read: World Environment Day: 75% Of Emerging Infectious Diseases Are Zoonotic, Caused By Biodiversity Loss, Warns UN Environment Programme Official

Urging the need to protect the ecosystem and in turn ourselves, Mr Bhushan said,

I am afraid that COVID-19 is not going to be the last pandemic that humanity is going to face. In 20 years of the 21st century, we have already had three pandemics whereas in the 19th century we had just one major pandemic. So, the frequency of pandemics is increasing and it is important that we recognise it and therefore, the decade of ecosystem restoration which is the theme of this year’s environment day is very very important.

20 Per Cent Of Global Landmass Has Been Degraded

Degradation of 20 per cent of the global landmass has happened largely because of deforestation, intensive agriculture and urbanisation, said Mr Bhushan. Essentially, this means that we have degraded our soil, we have eliminated forest and therefore, we have reduced the diversity of wildlife.

20 per cent of the global land mass is equivalent to 2 billion hectares of land which is about 6 times the size of India. So, the large scale degradation of land and therefore, animal and plant lives and micro-organisms who would depend on those lands have had an extensive impact on ecosystem goods and services, said Mr Bhushan.

The environmentalist also noted that due to land degradation many of the micro-organisms which we do not even know existed could have perished by now because our ability to find animals is also limited. A large number of animal species would have perished because of human intervention on land and also on marine.

Also Read: Opinion: Responding To Triple Crises Of Environment, COVID-19 Pandemic And Hunger

The Link Between Climate Change And Diseases

Melting glaciers, diminishing green cover, rise in temperature are all a result of climate change. But how is it linked to the outbreak of diseases? Elaborating on the same, Mr Bhushan said,

Increase in temperature is going to change the range and characteristic of micro-organisms as well as the carriers of those micro-organisms. What it means is that because of the increase in temperature mosquitoes, for example, will be found at higher altitudes so you now see malaria reaching higher reaches of the Himalayas. Similarly, some of the micro-organisms, some of the disease causing vectors are likely to reach places where they won’t reach because of temperature. In colder climate, you do see less number of some of disease causing vectors.

Similarly, virus and bacteria which survive on higher temperatures are likely to survive within the human body as well and this will have its own implications on our disease fighting ability, added Mr Bhushan.

Therefore, there are multiple ways in which an increase in temperature is going to impact both where the disease reaches, in as well as our ability to fight the disease. Hence, it becomes crucial to restore our ecosystem and protect the environment and human life from future outbreaks.

Also Read: UN Chief Calls For A Global Partnership To Address COVID-19, Climate Change And Achieve Sustainable Development Goals

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

17,29,80,332Cases

5,85,60,732Active

11,06,98,203Recovered

37,21,397Deaths

Coronavirus has spread to 193 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 17,29,80,332 and 37,21,397 have died; 5,85,60,732 are active cases and 11,06,98,203 have recovered as on June 6, 2021 at 3:48 am.

India

2,88,09,339 1,14,460Cases

14,77,79977,449Active

2,69,84,781 1,89,232Recovered

3,46,759 2,677Deaths

In India, there are 2,88,09,339 confirmed cases including 3,46,759 deaths. The number of active cases is 14,77,799 and 2,69,84,781 have recovered as on June 6, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

58,19,224 13,659

1,90,878 8,858

55,28,834 21,776

99,512 741

Karnataka

26,83,314 13,800

2,68,296 11,911

23,83,758 25,346

31,260 365

Kerala

26,18,410 17,328

1,68,049 6,884

24,40,642 24,003

9,719 209

Tamil Nadu

22,16,812 21,410

2,57,463 11,505

19,32,778 32,472

26,571 443

Andhra Pradesh

17,49,363 10,373

1,28,108 5,665

16,09,879 15,958

11,376 80

Uttar Pradesh

16,97,352 1,027

19,438 3,439

16,56,763 4,346

21,151 120

Delhi

14,28,863 414

6,731 1,329

13,97,575 1,683

24,557 60

West Bengal

14,19,130 7,682

44,441 8,582

13,58,537 16,146

16,152 118

Chhattisgarh

9,79,576 1,356

24,895 2,082

9,41,489 3,408

13,192 30

Rajasthan

9,45,442 942

21,550 2,454

9,15,261 3,364

8,631 32

Gujarat

8,15,386 996

20,087 2,023

7,85,378 3,004

9,921 15

Odisha

8,06,094 7,395

71,124 261

7,32,018 7,616

2,952 40

Madhya Pradesh

7,84,461 718

11,344 1,545

7,64,822 2,225

8,295 38

Haryana

7,61,637 723

9,974 1,080

7,42,999 1,744

8,664 59

Bihar

7,12,197 1,007

9,628 681

6,97,229 1,667

5,340 21

Telangana

5,89,734 2,070

29,208 1,710

5,57,162 3,762

3,364 18

Punjab

5,77,997 1,878

24,454 1,823

5,38,534 3,619

15,009 82

Assam

4,32,714 3,781

52,750 638

3,76,343 3,099

3,621 44

Jharkhand

3,40,925 517

6,239 593

3,29,640 1,098

5,046 12

Uttarakhand

3,33,578 619

17,305 1,978

3,09,609 2,564

6,664 33

Jammu And Kashmir

2,99,050 1,448

28,423 1,192

2,66,576 2,615

4,051 25

Himachal Pradesh

1,94,742 818

9,484 303

1,81,979 1,102

3,279 19

Goa

1,58,990 567

8,216 883

1,48,030 1,433

2,744 17

Puducherry

1,08,439 613

8,783 711

98,043 1,312

1,613 12

Chandigarh

60,585 98

925 80

58,892 175

768 3

Tripura

55,234 654

6,481 114

48,195 532

558 8

Manipur

54,407 717

9,016 32

44,519 740

872 9

Meghalaya

38,230 497

5,797 313

31,781 801

652 9

Arunachal Pradesh

29,113 327

3,753 76

25,237 402

123 1

Nagaland

22,696 309

4,819 124

17,455 179

422 6

Ladakh

19,147 71

1,170 184

17,782 254

195 1

Sikkim

16,771 253

4,218 32

12,285 283

268 2

Mizoram

13,567 267

3,363 70

10,151 335

53 2

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,387 10

122 10

10,261

4

Lakshadweep

8,667 99

1,160 48

7,469 145

38 2

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,105 17

107 8

6,876 24

122 1





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