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Scientists are speaking out about the role nature plays in disease spread and how we can use nature to prevent future outbreaks.

Lee Hannah, Conservation International senior Climate change scientist, spoke with Conservation News on steps to take to protect nature, how our actions affect nature and what is means for disease outbreaks. Hannah notes that wildlife trade is crucial to how pandemics are spread. According to Hannah, “This trade puts species in contact with other species — and other diseases — that they likely would have never encountered naturally in the wild. ”

UN’s environment chief, Inger Andersen has said that the coronavirus pandemic is sending us a message about nature. She told the Guardian, “Never before have so many opportunities existed for pathogens to pass from wild and domestic animals to people.” 75% of new infectious diseases come from wildlife. Exotic markets in China and habitat degradation are opportunities for diseases to pass.

Harvard Scientist Dr. Aaron Bernstein believes that coronavirus and Climate change are closely linked, a belief shared by both Hannah and Andersen. Deforestation, rising temperatures, habitat degradation all play a role in disease emergence and the rate of spread.

We need to change our relationship with the natural world to help prevent the spread of coronavirus or other related diseases. Bernstein said, “The bottom line is that I don’t think anyone having lived through this moment, in this time with COVID, would think that it’s really wise to continue business as usual.”

According to Andersen, “We are intimately interconnected with nature, whether we like it or not. If we don’t take care of nature, we can’t take care of ourselves. And as we hurtle towards a population of 10 billion people on this planet, we need to go into this future armed with nature as our strongest ally.”

There are ways we can protect ourselves from animals and their diseases. We can eat plant-based diets, reduce deforestation and stop the wildlife trade.

Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and check our latest article to learn how COVID-19 differs from the flu.

Scientists believe that the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, started at an exotic animal market in Wuhan, China. You can help stop the incidence of viruses like these by signing this petition to ban the wildlife trade.

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Consider eating fewer animal products to stay healthy at this time. Eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects.

Interested in joining the dairy-free and meatless train? We highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

Catch up on our latest coronavirus coverage in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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