To Prevent Future Pandemics, Start by Protecting Nature

A researcher for Brazil's state-run Fiocruz Institute handles a cage of captured monkeys at Pedra Branca State Park, near Rio de Janeiro, Oct. 29, 2020 (AP photo by Silvia Izquierdo).
A researcher for Brazil's state-run Fiocruz Institute handles a cage of captured monkeys at Pedra Branca State Park, near Rio de Janeiro, Oct. 29, 2020 (AP photo by Silvia Izquierdo).

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted humanity’s growing vulnerability to emerging infectious diseases and underscored the need to reduce our collective exposure to these pathogens. Not surprisingly, then, the past year has seen a torrent of reports on pandemic preparedness, including one I co-authored for the Council on Foreign Relations. Most of these focus on controlling outbreaks after they start, rather than averting them in the first place. Moving from reaction to prevention requires identifying and mitigating the main drivers of new infectious diseases. These drivers are almost entirely anthropogenic and are the same forces responsible for precipitous declines in global […]

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