covid-19 tagged posts

To prevent the next deadly disease, we must stop harming nature

A pristine reef community with an extraordinary abundance of giant clams,Tridacna maxima, living on a patch reef in the lagoon of Kingman Reef.

Since my childhood by the Mediterranean Sea, I’ve been enchanted by the diversity of life on our planet and eager to learn all I could about it. I’ve spent much of my career studying the ocean food web, where in the course of natural events the smallest of the small are consumed by larger and larger predators, often ending in us. But scientists know there is more to the story, and I’ve been humbled to see life on our planet brought to a standstill by a tiny virus.

From a Wuhan, China, “wet market” where freshly butchered meat and live wild animals are sold for food and medicine, the virus likely was transmitted in late 2019 via wildlife to humans. And in a matter of months, COVID-19 has felled hundreds of thousands of Homo sapiens, Earth’s preeminent predator.

Writing abou...

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Ocean investment could aid post-Covid-19 economic recovery

Indonesia Reefs

Every dollar invested in a sustainable ocean economy can yield at least five times the return in benefits, according to a new report commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy.

As many countries roll out bailout packages to counter the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the report says investment in these four key ocean intervention areas could help aid economic recovery both now and in the future:

  • Conservation and restoration of mangroves
  • Decarbonization of the shipping industry
  • Scaling up offshore wind production
  • Increasing sustainable protein from the ocean

“They give jobs and livelihoods to people and communities and you’re doing so by investing in making your environment more sustainable,” said Manaswita Konar, lead author of the report...

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As pandemic halts mass tourism, islands mend ties with nature

Since coronavirus emptied Hawaii of tourists, seals have been lounging on beaches, fish are swimming closer to shore and the turquoise water of the U.S. islands’ famous Hanauma Bay is 55% clearer, one marine biologist said.

The pandemic has been devastating economically for Hawaii, whose $18-billion tourism industry employs more than 200,000 people, or about a third of the workforce. It is among the U.S. states with the highest unemployment rate since March.

But the absence of thousands of visitors a day has been a boon for fisheries, coral reefs and other aspects of the fragile island ecosystem that has become degraded by too much tourism and climate change.

As islands around the world grapple with similar challenges, some authorities see the pandemic as an opportunity for change...

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Best way to avoid future pandemics? Protect the natural world

Seychelles island

The Seychelles, a string of 115 verdant, rocky islands in the Indian Ocean, recently announced – in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – that it would protect 30% of its turquoise waters from commercial use. Safeguarding some 410,000 square kilometers (158,000 square miles) of the sea will benefit wildlife on the shore and in the water, including 100,000 giant tortoises and some of the world’s last pristine coral reefs. But, beyond helping such species, establishing the new Marine Protected Areas – which was made possible through an innovative debt-swap deal – will also bolster the health, wellbeing, and prosperity of the Seychellois, who number fewer than 100,000 but host more than 350,000 visitors each year.

Currently hosting only a handful of tourists stranded by the pa...

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