Newsdesk July 31


Deforestation is both an environmental and a health hazard.Ales Krivec/Unsplash

Protecting nature could prevent the next pandemic.  As humans and wildlife increasingly intermingle due to wildlife trade and deforestation, these types of viruses will only have more opportunity to infect homo sapien hosts.  The CDC estimates that 6 in every 10 new diseases originate in animals, and those of concern in the US include coronaviruses, West Nile, rabies, and Lyme. These zoonotic diseases infect people during close contact with wildlife, with livestock sometimes serving as an intermediate vector. Deforestation increases this risk. When we increasingly carve up forests with roads and settlements, we also reduce habitat for wildlife, making humans and animals more likely to interact. To help reduce deforestation-related risks, ecologists could target areas where high-risk species—including bats, rodents, primates, and pangolins—dwell alongside humans. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging, the team of scientists prepared an economic analysis to see how much it might cost to stop zoonoses at their source. Using their expertise and existing information on policies to address deforestation and wildlife trade, the researchers assembled a global estimate of what it might cost to stave off pandemics. In total, preventing future pandemics through strategic protection of forests and regulating wildlife trade would cost between $22 and $31 billion a year. In addition, when the researchers considered the value of carbon sequestration provided by leaving trees alone, the cost of preventing pandemics went down by $4 billion per year. Pandemic prevention can also create new jobs in conservation, research, and veterinary medicine – Popular Science

  • Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace Campaign for a Breakup Between Big Tech and Big Oil – Inside Climate News
  • Keep ‘unreliable, immoral’ Chevron Corp. out of Israel, activists urge MKs – The Times of Israel
  • France to ban cafe terrace heaters as no longer cool – Reuters
  • In 100 days, the climate emergency may be even more serious. That’s why we’re launching this series – The Guardian
  • My Midlife Crisis as a Russian Sailor – Outside 
  • Germany’s forests decimated by insects, drought – Made for Minds
  • London’s Covid-Safe Commute Idea: Open-Air Buses –
If America is ever going to win on climate change, it must first break its addiction to fossil fuels and racism.’ Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Environmental racism is killing Americans of color. Climate change will make it worse.  Communities of color have appealed for decades to politicians, policymakers and environmental organizations that they “can’t breathe,” only to be ignored. In fact,  Black, Brown, Indigenous and lower-wealth communities have disproportionately been the dumping grounds for our country’s deadliest toxic pollutants. Studies show that Hispanics, Asians, American Indians/Alaska Natives and especially African Americans experience higher risks of harm (including premature death) from air pollution. The late congressman John Lewis even warned: “When we take our air, waters and land for granted; when we show a simple lack of respect for nature and our environment, we unmake God’s good creation. Humanity is the most important endangered species under threat from climate change and yet we flood our ecology with poisons and pollution.” In particular, frontline communities are hit first and worst from climate change. They are the least likely to be able to recover, often forgotten as decisions take place about rebuilding their communities by those who benefit from the disaster economy. In conclusion, If America is ever going to “win” on climate change, it must first break its addiction to fossil fuels and racism. Only then can it truly be great – The Guardian

Mother Jones illustration; Courtesy of Georgia State University School of Public Health

How Trees Can Help Us Fight a Pandemic. Christina Hemphill Fuller is an environmental exposure scientist and epidemiologist focused on the intersection of air pollution, public health, and racial justice. Her expertise has taken on even greater relevance as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that Black and Latino communities have experienced some of the worst effects of COVID-19, being three times as likely to become infected as white people, and nearly twice as likely to die. Air pollution has been known for a long time to be associated with different diseases and conditions linked to respiratory disease, but it’s also linked to heart attack, heart disease, and lung cancer, in addition to pregnancy outcomes like preterm birth and babies being born early and babies being born smaller. There are many studies that have documented that communities with more Blacks or Hispanics have higher air pollution, and that’s because industries are placed there on purpose.  Highway or major roads that has lots of cars and trucks on it run through communities of color, leading to high air pollution exposures in those neighborhoods. Natural gas and coal-fired power plants are also disproportionately in communities of color and low-income communities. There are other types of industries, like car body shop and dry cleaners, that are smaller producers, but they do produce air pollution and those are also disproportionately in color or low-income communities. With traffic pollution, in particular, in areas where we can’t necessarily remove a highway, we could reduce the impact that it has on the neighboring communities by putting in a barrier of trees there. It’s not only that green environments are wonderful for mental health, but they also can reduce the pollution that is coming off that roadway and affecting people who live next to it. There are thousands of schools across the country that are right next to highways, and kids are playing outside next to the road. But if we’re able to put something there like a tree barrier, they actually have been shown to reduce pollution – Mother Jones