However you cut it, there is strong evidence that the logging industry may be depriving us of more than mere oxygen. Evidence is starting to grow that mass deforestation leads to mass outbreaks of disease-some of them particularly nasty, like Ebola, HIV, Lassa, Lyme, and Malaria. We’ve got two links for you today, both from impeccable middle of the road journals- Forbes* with Jeff MacMahon and National Geographic* with Katarina Zimmer. You should read them both. But check this from Katarina on the Nipah virus:
In 1997, clouds of smoke hung over the rainforests of Indonesia as an area roughly the size of Pennsylvania was burned to make way for agriculture, the fires exacerbated by drought. Smothered in haze, the trees couldn’t produce fruit, leaving resident fruit bats with no other option than to fly elsewhere in search of food, carrying with them a deadly disease.
Not long after the bats settled on trees in Malaysian orchards, pigs around them started to fall sick—presumably after eating fallen fruit the bats had nibbled on—as did local pig farmers. By 1999, 265 people had developed a severe brain inflammation, and 105 had died. It was the first known emergence of Nipah virus in people, which has since caused a string of recurrent outbreaks across Southeast Asia.
So,if it works for Nipah, why not SARS-Cov-2 ? The borderlands of South East Asia, where China meets Laos, Burma and Vietnam are full of small mammals like pangolins, civets and bats. Above all bats, which are known to harbour any number of corona viruses. Disease has been jumping the barrier from animals to humans for thousands of years. Isn’t it time we stopped destroying the forests, and found other uses for them?
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