I have spoken repeatedly over the last year, about the positive impact of the epidemic. The loss of life has been horrible, and many people have suffered significant losses of different kinds. One of the advantages it is given though is a link between saving the remaining wildernesses on planet earth, and our own long-term health and wellbeing. Experts have once again stated the advantage of both fighting habitat loss and degradation at the same time as making sure that pandemics do not spread around the world again.
Pandemics like the one that recently swept the world, have jumped species. If if we stop harvesting bushmeat and other things from wild ecosystems these will not make the leap to humans. Now there are certain parts of the world that are most problematic. Unfortunately despite some changes in the rules,
China has not made a big enough difference to the way they operate to rule out starting another epidemic. It is true that they are not the only country doing this, either China is probably the biggest threat at the moment. Countries need to be opened about their behaviours and allow other countries to monitor them and make sure that behaviours and not risking another outbreak.
It is estimated that the cost of protecting and restoring the world’s ecosystems would be a matter of about 5 billion dollars per rich country, per year.
While this sounds like a lot, it is nothing to the amount of money these countries have spent fighting covid.
More to the point, the benefits that come with this would be enormous. From restoring rainforests around the world, allowing many of them to become net carbon sinks again rather than emitters, and restoring mangroves around the world. Likewise restoring seagrasses and many other ecosystems would have multiple benefits.
Apart from the fact that this would greatly reduce the risk of future pandemics, restoring forests, mangroves and sea meadows worldwide to carbon sinks, would be capable of absorbing as much as 10 years of carbon emissions, potentially far more. This should be enough to give the world time to adapt to a net zero emissions time. Restoring mangroves will also help stop the encroachment of the sea onto the land.
Without this action, these governments are likely to have to pay 5 or more times as much, possibly many times. Scientists estimate that there are at least 100 pathogens that could have a similar impact on the world – without drastic action this latest epidemic could become something that happens every 10 years or even more regularly.
It also strikes as far too good an opportunity. Getting the world to work on saving wildlife has been hard work, despite the many benefits that humans get from these wild areas. Here though we have an opportunity to save much of the natural world, and the money is coming to help human health – something that even government without much money can see the benefit of paying.