Cutting Down Fewer Trees May Help Stop the Next Pandemic
By Vincent Liu
According to a recent study, cutting down fewer trees would help prevent the next pandemic. Now, most people would find no connection between trees and pandemics. But, there is a very complicated connection in these two things.
About every two years, a virus will go from animals to humans, creating a high chance of pandemic. These types of events are becoming more and more common and have created some of the deadliest outbreaks ever. These include Ebola, SARS, HIV, and likely COVID-19.
Preparing for these outbreaks could help a lot. Some biologists say that pandemic preparedness should start with reducing the probability of the virus transitioning in the first place. Reducing deforestation, limiting wildlife trade, and monitoring farm animals can prevent animals that carry diseases from coming into contact with humans in the first place. According to an analysis in the July 24 Science, that would cost “roughly $20 billion to $30 billion each year.” (Science News) This price does seem very little compared to the estimated global cost of COVID-19, which is over “5 trillion dollars in lost gross domestic product for this year alone.” (Science News)
According to Stuart Pimm, a conservation biologist at Duke University, “COVID has killed hundreds of thousands of people and caused massive disruption to the economy. We’ve shown that there are lots of smart, relatively cheap things that we can do now to reduce the risk of another catastrophe like this one.”