“Ecosystem services” refers to the various ways nature supports us humans. For example, birds and bees pollinate crops so that we can eat. Forests filter out carbon dioxide and send out oxygen so that we can breathe. The natural world, if cared for properly, gives us and the inhabitants of planet Earth life. If not cared for properly, disease and death can reign unfettered.
According to a recent article, many new infectious diseases are originating in the animals of our planet and more than two-thirds from wildlife. Diseases such as AIDS, Ebola, West Nile, SARS, and Lyme disease resulted from our actions on our environment. Worldwide, more than two million people a year die from diseases spread to humans from wild and domestic animals.
Whenever we cut a road through a woods; or pave over a part of the planet with parking lots, buildings, and homes; or clear cut old-growth forests to raise cattle, we disrupt the natural environment, killing off some animals and insects that could be protecting us while leaving the field wide open for others to carry on the spread of deadly diseases. According to the article, “Diseases have always come out of the woods and wildlife and found their way into human populations—the plague and malaria are two examples. But emerging diseases have quadrupled in the last half-century, experts say, largely because of increasing human encroachment into habitat….”
When you think about it, we have brought the plague upon ourselves. Now, what are we doing to do about it?