Climate inaction could trigger pandemics worse than coronavirus.
That’s the suggestion made in a recent report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which warns of the ‘vast’ potential for future pandemics.
The independent body suggests: “As many as 1.7 million unidentified viruses of the type known to infect people are believed to still exist in mammals and water birds. Any one of these could be the next ‘Disease X’ – potentially even more disruptive and lethal than COVID-19.”
Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, intensive farming, mining and infrastructure development, as well as the exploitation of wild species, have created a ‘perfect storm’ for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people, according to the report.
IPBES says future pandemics are likely to happen more often, spread more rapidly, have greater economic impacts and kill more people if people are not ‘extremely careful’ about the possible environmental impacts of the choices they make.
The organisation also believes world leaders need to strengthen and enforce environmental regulations and deploy stimulus packages that offer incentives for more sustainable and nature-positive activities.
According to the scientists, a mobilisation of international finance is also needed to build health capacity in emerging disease hotspots,