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

There is a link between the destruction of the environment and the emergence of pandemics like COVID-19, said Chandra Bhushan, CEO, International Forum for Environment, Sustainability and Technology (iFOREST)

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

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

22,81,49,892Cases
19,07,93,163Active
3,26,71,167Recovered
46,85,562Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 22,81,49,892 and 46,85,562 have died; 19,07,93,163 are active cases and 3,26,71,167 have recovered as on September 19, 2021 at 3:52 am.

India

3,34,48,163 30,773Cases
3,32,1588,481Active
3,26,71,167 38,945Recovered
4,44,838 309Deaths
In India, there are 3,34,48,163 confirmed cases including 4,44,838 deaths. The number of active cases is 3,32,158 and 3,26,71,167 have recovered as on September 19, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,18,502 3,391

51,472 530

63,28,561 3,841

1,38,469 80

Kerala

44,88,813 19,325

1,81,411 8,084

42,83,963 27,266

23,439 143

Karnataka

29,67,083 889

15,783 205

29,13,713 1,080

37,587 14

Tamil Nadu

26,43,683 1,653

16,893 50

25,91,480 1,581

35,310 22

Andhra Pradesh

20,37,353 1,174

14,653 144

20,08,639 1,309

14,061 9

Uttar Pradesh

17,09,652 9

193 2

16,86,572 7

22,887

West Bengal

15,61,014 728

7,967 41

15,34,406 757

18,641 12

Delhi

14,38,469 41

404 3

14,12,980 44

25,085

Odisha

10,19,621 695

5,929 689

10,05,564

8,128 6

Chhattisgarh

10,05,042 28

332 14

9,91,150 42

13,560

Rajasthan

9,54,246 8

102 2

9,45,190 10

8,954

Gujarat

8,25,715 13

143 11

8,15,490 24

10,082

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,386 6

97 12

7,81,772 18

10,517

Haryana

7,70,711 6

323 0

7,60,580 6

9,808

Bihar

7,25,881 10

65 0

7,16,158 10

9,658

Telangana

6,63,281 255

5,148 75

6,54,230 329

3,903 1

Punjab

6,01,236 30

316 7

5,84,453 23

16,467

Assam

5,97,709 365

5,063 102

5,86,856 465

5,790 2

Jharkhand

3,48,114 3

74 20

3,42,907 23

5,133

Uttarakhand

3,43,376 21

282 0

3,35,704 20

7,390 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,27,773 152

1,479 39

3,21,878 113

4,416

Himachal Pradesh

2,16,813 174

1,610 30

2,11,554 142

3,649 2

Goa

1,75,414 123

771 40

1,71,351 81

3,292 2

Puducherry

1,25,384 128

924 5

1,22,631 122

1,829 1

Manipur

1,18,261 140

2,180 92

1,14,251 228

1,830 4

Tripura

83,840 31

367 37

82,665 67

808 1

Meghalaya

79,325 119

1,876 76

76,075 192

1,374 3

Mizoram

79,171 1,104

14,456 161

64,456 938

259 5

Chandigarh

65,176 4

35 1

64,323 3

818

Arunachal Pradesh

54,060 32

461 44

53,328 76

271

Sikkim

30,893 54

728 28

29,786 82

379

Nagaland

30,840 60

491 20

29,696 39

653 1

Ladakh

20,702

109 0

20,386

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,670

1 4

10,665 4

4

Lakshadweep

10,356

6 1

10,299 1

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,598 2

14 0

7,455 2

129

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