Scientifically, we know that what impacts our environment will impact us, as one of its species. Spiritually, we know that we live a lonelier, sadder life if/when deprived of other non-human animals around us.
Here is more evidence that what harms our earth, does harm us directly.
From a paper published recently entitled, “Infectious Diseases and Their Outbreaks in Asia-Pacific: Biodiversity and Its Regulation Loss Matter‘
“Despite increasing control measures, numerous parasitic and infectious diseases are emerging, re-emerging or causing recurrent outbreaks particularly in Asia and the Pacific region, a hot spot of both infectious disease emergence and biodiversity at risk. We investigate how biodiversity affects the distribution of infectious diseases and their outbreaks in this region, taking into account socio-economics (population size, GDP, public health expenditure), geography (latitude and nation size), climate (precipitation, temperature) and biodiversity (bird and mammal species richness, forest cover, mammal and bird species at threat). We show, among countries, that the overall richness of infectious diseases is positively correlated with the richness of birds and mammals, but the number of zoonotic disease outbreaks is positively correlated with the number of threatened mammal and bird species and the number of vector-borne disease outbreaks is negatively correlated with forest cover. These results suggest that, among countries, biodiversity is a source of pathogens, but also that the loss of biodiversity or its regulation, as measured by forest cover or threatened species, seems to be associated with an increase in zoonotic and vector-borne disease outbreaks.”
In other words, as biodiversity decreases, so does human health.
Is this new? Noted blogger and conservation-biologist reported last year that:
“..there are quite a few examples of how we’re rapidly making ourselves more susceptible to killer infectious diseases simply by our modification of the landscape and seascape. Some examples are required to illustrate the point. Schistosomiasis is a snail-borne fluke that infects millions worldwide, and it is on the rise again from expanding habitat of its host due to poor agricultural practices, bad hygiene, damming of large river systems and climate warming. Malaria too is on the rise, with greater and greater risk in the endemic areas of its mosquito hosts. Chagas (a triatomine bug-borne trypanosome) is also increasing in extent and risk.
We do need the reminder, though. We do need to be told again that habitat loss, fragmentation, invasive species, over-exploitation and of course,climate change, are bad for biodiversity. And that a degraded ecosystem results in degraded human health.