Pandemics Connected to Deforestation, Urbanization, Climate Change and Factory Farming

Using the same modeling techniques that drive weather forcasting, pandemic modeling programs look at environmental and climate issues to predict where zoonotic diseases like Covid-19 will occur. Computer models built by the University College London have successfully predicted the location of the last three Ebola outbreaks.

David Redding and a team of disease ecologists from University College London (UCL) have built a computer model encompassing environmental disturbance and social change such as deforestation and urban expansion, the movement of host animals, expected climate change, temperature, rainfall, types of habitat, even transport links.

‘Why wait for it?’ How to predict a pandemic — The Guardian.

As data and designs improve, pandemic modeling programs will be able to predict the emergence of a wide range of zoonotic diseases, such as Covid-19, allowing advance preparation, much as we prepare for hurricane landfalls today. Even now, modeling programs are demonstrating that most zoonotic diseases arise not in wilderness areas, but in wilderness areas that have been converted to pasture, croplands and urban habitat.

The best way to predict zoonotic diseases, says disease ecologist Richard Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, may be to narrow research to where humans are disturbing natural environments the most. “There is a widespread misconception that wild nature is the greatest source of zoonotic disease. This idea is reinforced by popular culture portrayals of jungles teeming with microbial menaces. The great zoonotic threats actually arise where natural areas have been converted to cropland, pastures and urban areas,” he says.

‘Why wait for it?’ How to predict a pandemic — The Guardian.

Large scale animal operations and factory farming are part of the pandemic model. They create a perfect environment for the exchange and mutation of bacteria and viruses among animals, and their transmission to humans. Changing our food systems can dramatically reduce the risk of pandemics and predictive modeling can show where regenerative farming techniques and changes to our diet will be most effective.

It is equally important to focus on factory farming, says Bath University evolutionary biologist Sam Sheppard, whose research suggests that large animal farms create the perfect conditions for bacteria and other pathogens to spread between animals and humans.

‘Why wait for it?’ How to predict a pandemic — The Guardian.

There are hundreds of thousands of potentially lethal viruses safely contained in wilderness areas; over 4500 known coranaviruses alone. Destruction of these areas and urbanization are rapidly pushing these viruses into human populations.

Pandemic modeling programs that look at regional climate change, habitat destruction and transportation links are accurately predicting where pandemics have emerged. In the future these models will allow us to know where the next pandemic will emerge and, if we have the will-power, to prevent it.

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