Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top coronavirus advisor, warns that humanity is now living in a “pandemic era.”
At this point, nearly half a year after the COVID-19 pandemic brought the U.S. to its knees, that may sound obvious. But as The Washington Post reports, Fauci is talking about something greater than just the current pandemic. Rather, he believes that human activity has become a major contributor to the emergence of new deadly diseases.
“COVID-19, recognized in late 2019, is but the latest example of an unexpected, novel, and devastating pandemic disease,” Fauci, along with his colleague Dr. David Morens, wrote in research published last month in the prestigious journal CELL. “One can conclude from this recent experience that we have entered a pandemic era. The causes of this new and dangerous situation are multifaceted, complex, and deserving of serious examination.”
Throughout the paper, Fauci and Morens point out numerous dangerous disease outbreaks that began as a downstream effect of industrialization or other ways that human civilization impacted nature. For instance, there’s the Nipah virus outbreak from around the turn of the 21st century that began because humanity burned down forests to make room for agriculture, which displaced infected bats closer to populated areas.
“There are many examples where disease emergences reflect our increasing inability to live in harmony with nature,” Fauci and Morens write.
In order to reverse course, the duo warns that we need to rethink many aspects of our society, from deforestation to living in crowded cities to unsanitary animal farming.
“Living in greater harmony with nature will require changes in human behavior as well as other radical changes that may take decades to achieve: rebuilding the infrastructures of human existence, from cities to homes to workplaces, to water and sewer systems, to recreational and gatherings venues,” Fauci and Morens write.