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Climate Change & COVID-19 Are Related?

In the beginning of March, 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The virus had a huge impact around the world financially that forced the everything to come to a complete stop due by imposing tight restrictions put in place to prevent the spread. It also created a huge impact on our health worldwide where millions of people became infected with the COVID-19 virus and hundreds of thousands of people died. Today COVID-19 is still prevalent all around the world and we are about to enter the winter season which may see the virus have a second wave.

The main question: Is climate change and COVID-19 related in some way?

According to Harvard School of Public Health, there’s no specific evidence showing climate change has directly influenced the spread of COVID. But what we do know is that climate change can change the way we relate to other species. For example, when the planet starts to heat up, animals on both land and in the sea go out of their way to stay out of the heat. This puts animals into contact with animals they usually aren’t around.

This creates an opening for pathogens to find new hosts, which can also cause the spread of the infection. Deforestation, one of the root causes of climate change, forces animals to find a new home and establish contact with other animals. Covid-19 and similar viruses have been found in bats and human contact seems to have happened at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China

Author Sarah Kaplan, a reporter at the Washington Post, tells us that the COVID virus doesn’t appear to care what the global average temperature is. Climate change is known to be a threat multiplier, which makes existing problems and creates new ones. Scientists believe that humans have created a great amount of chances for viruses to evolve. As stated earlier, deforestation is a main cause of climate change. Dave O’Connor a virologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison states that habitat fragmentation is a major problem in this world. Human invasion into animal habitats is increases our contact with animals, and it gives us a higher chance to contract their diseases. At Harvard University they conducted a study on those infected with COVID-19 living in polluted areas. The result of that study shows people are far less able to fight off diseases, a situation that will get only worse as the planet gets warmer.

A question many people ask is “why don’t we just eliminate the main source of the disease?”

According to Thomas Freidrick, one of Dave O’Connor’s colleagues, eliminating a specific species is a dangerous way of thinking. Each creature in the ecosystem has a vital role and killing one species won’t prevent the next pandemic but hurt humanity. The health of both animal and human is what’s important and probably the strongest link between COVID and climate change, According to Elena Bennett, an ecosystem ecologist at McGill University.  Bennett also states that humans can’t be healthy until the planet itself is healthy first and that we can make a change.  She was heartened by the speed of how people responded to the pandemic and how important it was that most people participated in containing the virus and preventing the spread.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2020/04/15/climate-change-affects-everything-even-coronavirus/

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/c-change/subtopics/coronavirus-and-climate-change/

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