Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Corona Virus and The Environment

In the recent issue of the Catholic Peace Weekly, a special feature was a report on a panel discussing the causes of the Corona 19 new infections. The entire world seems helpless facing the spreading of Corona19. Even before Corona 19, new viruses such as SARS, H1N1, and MERS continued to appear. The cause of corona19 has not been clarified to date, but most of the causes of new viruses are related to wild animals. But experts say that the more fundamental cause is climate change. The climate change brought about by human indiscriminate development and destruction of the ecological environment is the cause of new infectious diseases including Corona19.

In this regard, Catholic Peace Broadcasting prepared a special talk for Corona 19 and listened to experts talking on the theme of "Natural Counterattack, Virus."  Corona 19 is also said to be more serious than World War II. How to see the current situation. Not only health and life but also political, social and economic fields are affected. The biggest problem is the unpredictability. It is a factor that causes fear and anxiety. It is difficult for experts to predict how long the Corona 19 will last.
Many scientists and experts find the root cause of infectious diseases in climate change.

Participant K, said that we need to distinguish between climate and weather. The weather is changing day by day. The climate is a long-term change— for more than 30 years. From the 19th to the 20th centuries, the average global temperature rose by about 1 ° C for about 100 years. In the past 10,000 years, the Earth's temperature has never changed above 1 ° C. Therefore, it is now called a climate crisis or a climate emergency rather than climate change. Furthermore, climate collapse is being discussed.

Presider: How is the climate crisis fundamentally related to infectious diseases?

Participant K: All the energy we use is fossil fuels. Electricity is created from oil, coal, and gas, and daily life is maintained. However, fossil fuels will dry up. There are limits to their continued use. As a result, humans are going deeper into these natural preserves invading more and more the life of animals and plants. If you continue to invade nature like this, you have no choice but to have a virus. I know it's an uncomfortable truth, but it's not easy to come out and say it. Because we have to face a shift in our civilization in the way we live.

Participant S: The decline in wildlife habitat due to climate change is a serious problem. Wetlands are disappearing and desertification is progressing due to climate change and warming. Coastlines are eroding due to rising sea levels. As the carbon dioxide concentration in the ocean increases, the marine ecosystem is also changing. Habitat loss due to climate change is invisible, but it is a bigger problem than habitat loss caused by human development.

Presider: Habitats disappearing due to climate change are more problematic than development, please explain in more detail.

Participant S: It is difficult to express numerically how much habitat is lost due to climate change. In general, the decline in wildlife habitat depends on how much the forest in which the wildlife lives is damaged. Logging in the Amazon rainforest is random. It is said that the area of ​​400,000 to 500,000 soccer fields disappears in one year due to indiscriminate development. In particular, the forest fires that occurred in August last year damaged 30,000 km of the Amazon region.  4 million football fields have disappeared. Forest damage is serious worldwide, but if the invisible damage of climate change is added, the habitat loss will be unimaginable.

Presider: Climate change and wildlife habitat destruction seem to be very closely linked.

Participant L: You can think about it in three ways. The obvious fact of climate change is that the global temperature has risen. As the temperature rises, water temperature changes. There are many bacteria in river water, but when the water temperature increases, the bacteria also increase. Second, climate change increases extreme climatic phenomena such as drought and flooding. When floods occur, bacteria increase and are passed on to humans and are more likely to develop water-borne diseases. Third, viruses transmit infectious diseases to humans through mediators. Mosquitoes, ticks, birds, and wild animals are all vehicles. Birds and wild animals, such as bats, have had little chance of contacting humans. However, as the habitat was destroyed due to the destruction of forests, the chances of contact with people increased, and as a result, infectious diseases increased.

Presider: Humans and animals are different species. It seems that the virus in animals cannot easily pass into humans due to the interspecies barrier. Why does it become a common infection?

Participant L: There are still different opinions among scientists about where Corona 19 came from. Presumably, the virus originated from an animal and is believed to have been mutated. Animal viruses are no problem for animals. Even if it enters a person, it is not a problem if only one person is infected, but it is a problem when a mutation occurs and a person-to-person infection occurs.

Participant S: Microorganisms also change to adapt to the environment. Infection occurs when a mutated microorganism finds a new host and adapts to it. Cross-species barriers can be crossed through the process of mutation.

Presider: Do you think the common human/animal infectious diseases have increased compared to the past? I wonder if the human/animal infectious disease is more difficult to respond to than the general infectious disease.

Participant L: 60 ~ 75% of the new infectious diseases are known as human/animal infectious diseases. New infectious diseases such as SARS and MERS, which have recently become problems, were also human/animal infectious diseases. We don't know enough about these new infectious diseases and their treatments and vaccines.

Participant S: Compared to the common infectious diseases, human/animal infectious diseases are not more difficult to cope with. Human/animal infectious diseases are also virus-dependent. In some cases, it is not a problem even if a person is infected because of its weak pathogenicity. There are many types. Corona 19 is known to be very contagious, but relatively week pathogenic. The problem is that they are new and we do not know their characteristics. The biggest problem is the inability to treat or prevent them.

Presider: We are feeling the consequences of humans often selfish desires in damaging and destroying nature.

Participant K: Therefore, climate action emphasizes that we must change our lives through actions and not just talk to solve the climate problem. Scientists should be heard about climate issues. The Catholic Church has taught us to bring faith and reason, science and religious beliefs together. Scientists are urged to stop the global average temperature from rising by 1.5 ° C. Now, the global average temperature has risen by 1 ℃. We have to act now.

Participant S: Wildlife habitat will continue to be invaded by human development needs. Housing and commercial facilities were established, roads and railroads were opened, and the habitats of animals and plants were greatly reduced. As there is no place to live, wild animals are short of prey and come down to human habitat. In doing so, it hurts the farmland.  On the way to new sanctuaries, they also collide with humans. This is the result of humans invading animal habitats. Protecting wildlife habitat is not just about protecting animals. It also protects human life and health by minimizing animal-to-human contact.

Presider: The more direct manifestation of human selfishness is in the culture of eating.

Participant L: The contact between animals and humans is gradually widening, and edible use of wild animals is also a major reason. In addition, excessive meat culture brought about by the factory-style livestock culture. The greater the number of human-to-animal contact with animals, the more likely it is that various problems will arise.

Participant S:  The eating of wildlife is disappearing a lot because countries are implementing various policies. It is often found as unique food, or used as an unfounded traditional medicine. Some like to have the experience of eating some exotic wild animals as a meal. Others want trophies of some wild animals as ornaments: rhino horns, elephant ivory, and tiger skins.

Participant K: If you can't stop eating meat, you should discuss ways to reduce it. To get 1 kg of beef, you need 30 kg of beans and 30 kg of grain. Many chemical fertilizers are used to raise feed for cattle. Manure from cows is also a problem. It is necessary to consider how to develop the livestock industry in a natural way, rather than in a factory manner.

Presider:  Overall, it seems that humans are being attacked by nature.

Participant S: There are many reasons why common infectious diseases continue to develop. It is the biggest cause of the indiscriminate access to nature and damage to the environment. Wild animals in the jungle and infectious diseases that existed only in those who lived there were exposed to the destruction of the environment. People who were not immune to such pathogens became infected and spread the virus, causing problems. Because of climate change, we will no doubt be exposed to more human/animal diseases. Migratory birds will have different destinations and will find different hosts for viruses. With global warming, we will have more of these human/animal viruses to deal with.

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