World Environment Day 2021: COVID-19 Will Not Be The Last Pandemic, Says Environmentalist Chandra Bhushan

World Environment Day 2021: COVID-19 Will Not Be The Last Pandemic, Says Environmentalist Chandra BhushanDestruction of the environment results in the outbreak of zoonotic diseases: Chandra Bhushan, Environmentalist and CEO, iFOREST

Highlights
  • Human health, environment and ecosystem are interrelated: Mr Bhushan
  • Last 20 years, the world has already witnessed three pandemics
  • The frequency of pandemic is increasing with environment degradation

New Delhi: World Environment Day 2021 marks the launch of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a 10-year push to halt and reverse the decline of the natural world. United Nations Environment Programme defines an ecosystem as a place where plants, animals and other organisms, in conjunction with the landscape around them, come together to form the web of life. Ecosystems can be large, like a forest, or small, like a pond. However, in the recent past, human activities have destroyed many ecosystems that have resulted in the outbreak of numerous diseases and pandemics.

Also Read: Opinion: At War With The Ecology- The COVID-19 Pandemic Is The Biggest Environmental Crisis Precipitated By Humans

Destruction Of Ecosystem And The Emergence Of Pandemics

According to Chandra Bhushan, CEO, International Forum for Environment, Sustainability and Technology (iFOREST), there is a very close linkage between human health, the environment and the ecosystem. In fact, he says that there is a link between the destruction of the environment and the emergence of pandemics.

In an interview with NDTV, Mr Bhushan explained the emergence of zoonotic diseases (which spill over from animals to humans) as a result of the destruction of the environment. He said,

One of the fundamental reasons for zoonotic diseases historically has been the destruction of environment and ecosystems. For example, it is generally believed that many of the zoonotic diseases including Zika, Nipah, West Nile fever and Rift Valley fever happened because of animal and humans coming in contact with each other because of deforestation. There are other reasons why zoonotic diseases occur and one of the fundamental reasons is the practice of eating exotic animals. For example, COVID-19 is also possibly linked with the eating of exotic animals. And then the third factor for zoonotic is when we start producing animal food in a very intensive manner by pumping antibiotics and other things. For instance, Swine Flu is linked to pig farms. Now, all three factors are related to the destruction of the environment or are intervention in the ecosystem.

The COVID-19 pandemic is also said to be a result of human invasion into the environment and the ecosystem. With biodiversity lapsing and the environment degrading, the world is in danger of having more pandemics in the near future.

Also Read: World Environment Day: 75% Of Emerging Infectious Diseases Are Zoonotic, Caused By Biodiversity Loss, Warns UN Environment Programme Official

Urging the need to protect the ecosystem and in turn ourselves, Mr Bhushan said,

I am afraid that COVID-19 is not going to be the last pandemic that humanity is going to face. In 20 years of the 21st century, we have already had three pandemics whereas in the 19th century we had just one major pandemic. So, the frequency of pandemics is increasing and it is important that we recognise it and therefore, the decade of ecosystem restoration which is the theme of this year’s environment day is very very important.

20 Per Cent Of Global Landmass Has Been Degraded

Degradation of 20 per cent of the global landmass has happened largely because of deforestation, intensive agriculture and urbanisation, said Mr Bhushan. Essentially, this means that we have degraded our soil, we have eliminated forest and therefore, we have reduced the diversity of wildlife.

20 per cent of the global land mass is equivalent to 2 billion hectares of land which is about 6 times the size of India. So, the large scale degradation of land and therefore, animal and plant lives and micro-organisms who would depend on those lands have had an extensive impact on ecosystem goods and services, said Mr Bhushan.

The environmentalist also noted that due to land degradation many of the micro-organisms which we do not even know existed could have perished by now because our ability to find animals is also limited. A large number of animal species would have perished because of human intervention on land and also on marine.

Also Read: Opinion: Responding To Triple Crises Of Environment, COVID-19 Pandemic And Hunger

The Link Between Climate Change And Diseases

Melting glaciers, diminishing green cover, rise in temperature are all a result of climate change. But how is it linked to the outbreak of diseases? Elaborating on the same, Mr Bhushan said,

Increase in temperature is going to change the range and characteristic of micro-organisms as well as the carriers of those micro-organisms. What it means is that because of the increase in temperature mosquitoes, for example, will be found at higher altitudes so you now see malaria reaching higher reaches of the Himalayas. Similarly, some of the micro-organisms, some of the disease causing vectors are likely to reach places where they won’t reach because of temperature. In colder climate, you do see less number of some of disease causing vectors.

Similarly, virus and bacteria which survive on higher temperatures are likely to survive within the human body as well and this will have its own implications on our disease fighting ability, added Mr Bhushan.

Therefore, there are multiple ways in which an increase in temperature is going to impact both where the disease reaches, in as well as our ability to fight the disease. Hence, it becomes crucial to restore our ecosystem and protect the environment and human life from future outbreaks.

Also Read: UN Chief Calls For A Global Partnership To Address COVID-19, Climate Change And Achieve Sustainable Development Goals

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

17,25,76,591Cases

5,86,50,150Active

11,02,14,435Recovered

37,12,006Deaths

Coronavirus has spread to 193 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 17,25,76,591 and 37,12,006 have died; 5,86,50,150 are active cases and 11,02,14,435 have recovered as on June 5, 2021 at 3:51 am.

India

2,86,94,879 1,20,529Cases

15,55,24880,745Active

2,67,95,549 1,97,894Recovered

3,44,082 3,380Deaths

In India, there are 2,86,94,879 confirmed cases including 3,44,082 deaths. The number of active cases is 15,55,248 and 2,67,95,549 have recovered as on June 5, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

58,05,565 14,152

1,99,736 8,077

55,07,058 20,852

98,771 1,377

Karnataka

26,69,514 16,068

2,80,207 6,612

23,58,412 22,316

30,895 364

Kerala

26,01,082 16,229

1,74,933 9,766

24,16,639 25,860

9,510 135

Tamil Nadu

21,95,402 22,651

2,68,968 11,458

19,00,306 33,646

26,128 463

Andhra Pradesh

17,38,990 10,413

1,33,773 5,139

15,93,921 15,469

11,296 83

Uttar Pradesh

16,96,325 1,113

22,877 2,669

16,52,417 3,646

21,031 136

Delhi

14,28,449 523

8,060 688

13,95,892 1,161

24,497 50

West Bengal

14,11,448 7,913

53,023 8,757

13,42,391 16,557

16,034 113

Chhattisgarh

9,78,220 1,460

26,977 2,401

9,38,081 3,838

13,162 23

Rajasthan

9,44,500 1,006

24,004 3,404

9,11,897 4,370

8,599 40

Gujarat

8,14,390 1,120

22,110 2,294

7,82,374 3,398

9,906 16

Odisha

7,98,699 7,729

71,385 3,657

7,24,402 11,347

2,912 39

Madhya Pradesh

7,83,743 798

12,889 1,297

7,62,597 2,045

8,257 50

Haryana

7,60,914 895

11,054 1,634

7,41,255 2,456

8,605 73

Bihar

7,11,190 991

10,309 1,122

6,95,562 2,090

5,319 23

Telangana

5,87,664 2,175

30,918 1,661

5,53,400 3,821

3,346 15

Punjab

5,76,119 2,005

26,277 2,396

5,34,915 4,314

14,927 87

Assam

4,28,933 4,548

52,112 231

3,73,244 4,263

3,577 54

Jharkhand

3,40,408 478

6,832 705

3,28,542 1,170

5,034 13

Uttarakhand

3,32,959 892

19,283 3,247

3,07,045 4,081

6,631 58

Jammu And Kashmir

2,97,602 1,723

29,615 1,042

2,63,961 2,731

4,026 34

Himachal Pradesh

1,93,924 787

9,787 1,270

1,80,877 2,030

3,260 27

Goa

1,58,423 576

9,099 601

1,46,597 1,160

2,727 17

Puducherry

1,07,826 712

9,494 521

96,731 1,215

1,601 18

Chandigarh

60,487 88

1,005 130

58,717 215

765 3

Tripura

54,580 708

6,367 27

47,663 670

550 11

Manipur

53,690 791

9,048 185

43,779 592

863 14

Meghalaya

37,733 584

6,110 242

30,980 808

643 18

Arunachal Pradesh

28,786 404

3,829 14

24,835 415

122 3

Nagaland

22,387 147

4,695 16

17,276 151

416 12

Ladakh

19,076 122

1,354 151

17,528 272

194 1

Sikkim

16,518 353

4,250 66

12,002 284

266 3

Mizoram

13,300 236

3,433 18

9,816 214

51 4

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,377 32

112 138

10,261 170

4

Lakshadweep

8,568 89

1,208 147

7,324 235

36 1

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,088 18

115 16

6,852 32

121 2

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