Future Pandemics Depend on Our Food Choices

As the rate of positive COVID-19 tests rise again, we must consider the source of the virus and how to prevent future pandemics. The New York Times referred to the coronavirus as a wave that will “be with us for the foreseeable future before it diminishes” and will take more than one round of social distancing. We cannot depend on the warmer weather to diminish the number of cases or hope that a vaccine comes quickly; we must face the grim reality that the pandemic may persist into the next year. First, we need to educate ourselves on the nature of zoonotic diseases, which the Center for Disease Control  defines as being caused by “germs spread between animals and people.” According to One Health Commision, in the past three decades around 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases originated in animals. These viruses are brought to humans by wild animals, whether humans consume them, capture and cross-breed species or increase encounter rates by destroying natural habitats.

Cornell Researcher Explains Effect of Human Illnesses on the Environment

Predictions of the likely effects of climate change are plentiful in scientific journals. Warnings of smog-engulfed cities, rising precipitation levels and the resultant changing landscape of diseases already seem to be realities in parts of the world. While the causes of such rapid change may be clear, one Cornell researcher believes that there is another avenue left to explore: the effect that human illnesses have on the environment. “A lot of the ways that we’ve thought about this in the past is by considering how the environment affects our health. In this study we examine the other side: how our health might affect the environment.