Ecosystems are key to understanding this crisis

Ecosystems are key to understanding this crisis

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Immersed in the confinement, from the comfortable solitude offered by the laptop and somewhat tired of reading on the same subject, yesterday I was reading a very interesting news: they confirm that the coronavirus COVID-19 was not created by humans.

That is, it has not been intentionally created as many conspiracy theories have warned, and that is that as published by the prestigious magazine Nature, the genetic variation of this virus with respect to previous coronaviruses is a 'natural mutation' that in no case can it be produced in laboratories.

The researchers indicate that its origin is the result of natural evolution. "By comparing the available genome sequence data for the known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes," says Kristian Andersen, associate professor of immunology and microbiology at the Institute from Scripps Research (United States).

For many, the fact that the origin of the virus is natural - that it has not been conscientiously created to infect a part of society, or harm the economy, etc. - is a relief. For others it is a real drama that a pandemic can originate like this, out of the blue, overnight.

The truth is that human action is key in the appearance of pandemics such as that of COVID-19 and we will explain it.

To begin with, the human being and his actions on the environment favor that this type of organisms, hidden in nature, contact companies. "We simplify ecosystems, reduce the number of species and lose biodiversity. This makes intermediate species that act as a barrier disappear, favoring that we are in contact with other species with which we never had contact and, therefore, more exposed", as explains to Public Fernando valladares, Doctor in Biological Sciences and researcher of Center for Scientific Research (CSIC).

The reduction of ecosystems and the overexploitation suffered by our planet is undoubtedly another cause that favors the rapid spread of this type of virus. throughout the world with increasing frequency. As Juantxo López de Uralde, ecologist deputy and president of the Ecological Transition Commission of the Congress: "There is a scientifically proven link between the destruction of natural environments and the emergence of new diseases", "With the destruction of tropical forests for, for example, monoculture plantations, species disappear and others seek refuge in areas closer to humans , which interacts with the animal through trade in species, or directly eats it, and ends up being infected ", summarizes the expert.

The problem of clear forests for economic exploitation It goes beyond ecological morality and opens the door to increased risks of disease spread. According explained this week in the with the BBC Peter Daszak, ecologist and key researcher at the discovery of bats as the source of SARS, it is estimated that around 1,7 million undiscovered viruses are hidden in the most remote areas of the planet, which reveals to what extent destroying natural spaces in favor of the economy - be it deforestation that is trafficking of exotic species- can increase the risks of a pandemic like the current one.

Valladares warns of the value of nature as a barrier to this type of phenomenon: "One of the most important messages during this crisis is that biodiversity protects us. It is something that must be clear. We are spending a huge amount of money to contain a failure, which is what the coronavirus is, because success is not overcoming the pandemic, but that it does not occur and for this it is necessary to recover ecosystems and keep them intact. "

And it is that in all the epidemics of this century there has been a common denominator: human beings who come into contact with animals with which in the past they had no relationship.

This irruption of the human being into nature becomes, according to a recent report from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), in a "boomerang" that turns against global health. Thus, the expansion of the COVI-19 is due, according to the first publications, to a process of zoonosis that, far from having its origin in the markets of exotic species, begins in the activities of deforestation and infrastructure construction in forested territories. This is the first step for practically unknown animals to get closer to humans.

We tend to look for an origin and an explanation for all these pandemics and we always turn to the animal, we always put the simple example of the right link that precedes human contagion, when the real culprit is the human being, who has directly or indirectly removed species from their ecosystems.

Therefore, it is demonstrated that even if we do not protect our ecosystems out of pure ethics or love of nature and the world in which we live, we will have to respect it even if it is for simple self-protection. We need to change the social and economic structures that favor the depravity of nature and find a way of development that fits in with respecting our ecosystem.

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Umer Ishfaq
Umer Ishfaq
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