Amazon rainforest could trigger the next pandemic, including a new coronavirus outbreak, expert warns
The largest rainforest in the world is disappearing at an alarming rate and could contribute to the next pandemic, a scientist warns.
Ecologists David Lapola warns that the Amazon rainforest can be a hot zone of contamination as human degradation of animal habitats is increasing.
The urbanization of once wild areas is contributing to the emergence of zoonotic diseases – which pass from animals to humans – and can cause a new outbreak of coronavirus.
The grim warning comes when deforestation in the Amazon rose 85 percent last year, with more than 3,900 square miles of treasured land destroyed by lumberjacks and miners.
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The largest rainforest in the world is disappearing at an alarming rate and could contribute to the next pandemic, a scientist warns. Ecologists David Lapola warns that the Amazon rainforest could be the next hot zone of contamination as human degradation of animal habitats is increasing
The coronavirus, which is said to have started in Wuhan, China in December 2019, has slowed down most human activity around the world except deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
Most, about 60 percent, of the Amazon rainforest is located in Brazil, the largest province in South America.
It is also the epicenter of the Latin American COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 10,000 deaths in the country already.
Trunk removal and mining in the area increased by nearly 64 percent in April.
And more than 156 square miles of the land was destroyed last month.
Brazilian officials have sent more than 3,000 soldiers to the Amazon to help stop the illegal activities affecting the rainforest, CNN reported.
The next pandemic could include the new coronavirus, which has been passed from bats to humans in China. The grim warning comes when deforestation in the Amazon rose 85 percent last year, destroying more than 3,900 square miles of treasured land.
The rainforest is due to the immense biodiversity that could make the region the world’s largest coronavirus pool
That’s bad news not only for the planet, but also for human health, said Lapola, who holds a doctorate in Earth system modeling from the Max Planck Institutes in Germany and works at the University of Campinas in Brazil.
“If you create ecological imbalance … then a virus can jump from animals to humans,” he said.
Lapola noted that similar patterns have been observed in the spread of HIV, Ebola and dengue fever, a mosquito-borne tropical disease.
One of the reasons he looks at the rainforest is because of the enormous biodiversity that could make the region ‘the largest coronavirus pool in the world’.
That’s another reason not to use the Amazon irrationally as we do now, “he said.
And another reason to be alarmed by the wave of deforestation by illegal farmers, miners and lumberjacks, he added.
Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, took office last year and is considered a skeptic of climate change.
Bolosonaro is working to keep mining and agriculture in the rainforest, but has deployed its arm in the area to combat deforestation.
However, Lapola said he would prefer the government to strengthen the existing environmental agency IBAMA, which has faced staffing and cutbacks under Bolsonaro.
The coronavirus, which is said to have started in Wuhan, China in December 2019, has infected more than four million people and resulted in more than 294,000 deaths
“I hope we will pay more attention under the next government to protecting what may be the planet’s greatest biological treasure,” said Lapola.
“We need to reinvent the relationship between our society and the rainforest.”
Otherwise, the world will be faced with more outbreaks – “a very complex process that is difficult to predict,” he said.
“We’d better play safe.”
The most inflammatory and controversial comments by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
Controversial ex-soldier Bolsonaro (pictured on Sunday) is Brazil’s next president after defeating his left-wing rival
During his campaign and political career, Jair Bolosoanro caused anger and outrage at some of his comments on such topics as homosexuality and and women.
Bolsonaro’s candidacy raised serious concerns that he would reverse civil rights and weaken institutions in what remains a young democracy. He often criticized women, gays and blacks, and said he would name military men after his cabinet.
Minutes after he was elected, several international human rights organizations also issued statements demanding that Bolsonaro respect Brazil’s democracy.
Some of the newly-elected president’s most controversial comments include:
- During the 2016 impeachment procedure against former left-wing President Dilma Rousseff, who was imprisoned and tortured during Brazil’s military dictatorship in the 1970s, Bolsonaro dedicated his voice to the colonel who tortured her.
- In 2003, Bolsonaro urged a congressman to tell her, “I would never rape you because you don’t deserve it.” He repeated the comment in the room in 2014.
- In a radio show in 2016, Bolsonaro said the dictatorship’s mistake was “torture and not kill.” The Brazilian National Truth Commission found that 440 people died under the military rule of 1964-85, 210 of which disappeared without a trace.
- Brazilian prosecutor earlier this year accused Bolsonaro of inciting discrimination against black people, indigenous peoples, women and gays in public statements he made, including “If I see two men kissing in the street, I’ll hit them.”
- Speaking at an event in Rio de Janeiro last year, he said having a daughter, his fifth child after four boys, was a “weakness.”
- “I couldn’t love a gay son. I’d rather have him killed in an accident, ‘he told Playboy in 2011.
- Speaking last year about communities of descendants of escaped slaves protected by Brazil’s social programs, Bolsonaro suggested that the state wasted money: “They’re not doing anything! I don’t think they even serve for reproduction. ‘