Pandemic Revisited: Important Lessons from a Year in Lockdown

This article contains the content from the 3/11/2021 Bioneers Pulse newsletter. Sign up here to get the newsletter straight to your inbox!

It has been a full year since the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic due to the spread of COVID-19 and it has been an immensely challenging time for everyone The impacts have been staggering. As we wrote last March in the introduction to Bioneers collection of content on the pandemic, “While the virus itself is considered “novel,” its emergence, spread and the varied global response has unmasked systemic realities that are certainly less than “novel,” including issues that many in this community have been working on for decades.” Even for those who have never contracted the virus, the anxiety of struggling to make ends meet has been on the minds of thousands of people. The disproportionate impact of the pandemic that communities of color are forced to endure highlights deep structural injustices. 

As much as the past 12 months have represented unprecedented hardship and loss, it has also been a time of unforeseen solidarity, care, and growth. The virus has illuminated the interconnected relationship between public health and planetary health by virtue of the virus having originated in non-human animals. Political theater aside, one thing has become clear in the year since the start of the pandemic: Our future as a species depends on the health of the planet we share.

This week, we highlight the voices of some of the people on the frontlines of struggle for human and planetary health in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Public Health – Planetary Health – One Health

The current global pandemic has revealed stark structural injustices embedded deep in our society. Our approach to health has neglected the relationship between socio-economic conditions, planetary health, and public health. As a virus that was transmitted from non-human animals to humans has placed the entire world on high-alert and has disproportionately affected communities of color, it is time we reevaluate the relationship between planetary health and public health. This enlightening conversation features leading experts in the public health arena.

Read and Watch here.

COVID Near the Congo: Our Conversation with a Disease Ecologist Caught Abroad

“Our approach is an attempt to work toward health for humans, animals and the environment holistically because you cannot disconnect these things.”

On her way to the Congo, Belgian disease ecologist and wildlife biologist Anne Laudisoit got stuck in Uganda during their COVID-19 shutdowns. In this interview from May 2020, she chats with Bioneers Senior Producer J.P. Harpignies about zoonotic diseases and how scientists around the world are managing outbreaks.

Read here.

Planetary Health: Protecting Nature to Protect Ourselves

“These are, indeed, the best of times and the worst of times. But at the heart of the field of planetary health is recognition that the wellbeing of humanity and the degradation of the rest of the biosphere cannot remain disconnected for much longer.”

Planetary health is an emerging field that honors the interdependence of human and environmental health. The book Planetary Health: Protecting Nature to Protect Ourselves provides an overview of this approach — which considers threats to our ecosystems as threats to our own wellbeing, with an emphasis on solutions — and serves as a guide on how to respond. Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter.

Read more here.

The Coronavirus Pandemic and the Invisibility of Nature

As rampant urbanization increasingly severs humanity from the living world, naturalist Michael McCarthy explores the ways in which the “anthropause,” ushered in by the coronavirus, has—on an unprecedented scale—made nature visible again.

Read more here.

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