6 Ways Extinction and Nature Loss Hurts People

In truth, every problem on this list negatively affects our health, and there is some overlap between them. But here, we’re talking about the ways the extinction crisis and the loss of nature are directly making us sick (or sicker).

On the one hand, recent research suggests that the loss of nature increases the likelihood of pandemics like COVID-19. As human development moves deeper into once “wild” areas, people are exposed to more new disease vectors (a large proportion of emerging infectious diseases are those that jump from animals to humans). Additionally, as species move to adapt to changing climates, they may collide with communities that otherwise would not have encountered them, causing a “spillover” of dangerous pathogens from wildlife.

Loss of nature can also weaken biodiversity which collectively dilutes and defends against certain disease threats. For example, scientists say more diverse bird populations can help protect humans from the effects of West Nile virus.

The deterioration of nature also impairs our ability to heal. Many important medicines, including treatments for heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and various cancers, are derived from natural sources like plants and fungi. Biodiversity loss threatens these resources, as well as countless drugs yet to be discovered.

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