One of the assignments for the fall 2020 Climate Negotiations course was to write an opinion piece and submit it to local media. Five students’ op-eds were published this month. Have a read!

Let’s Focus on Preventing Future Pandemics

By Rodney Berger ’21

Previously published in the Morning Call on November 5, 2020

The COVID-19 virus has changed millions of people’s lives across the globe within a matter of months, financially, mentally and physically. Unfortunately, viruses like COVID-19 could just be the beginning.

According to the recent Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Pandemic Report, millions of viruses have yet to even show themselves and could be much worse than COVID-19 ever was or will be.

The report notes as humans continue to degrade ecosystems and drive organisms out of their homes to make more room for an ever-growing population, people and wildlife come into close contact. This exposure increases the chances animals will spread infectious diseases, leaving humans to deal with them in the future.

The problem is that humans tend to be reactive rather than proactive, meaning that we wait for events such as COVID-19 to happen for us to react, rather than going out and trying to prevent these unknown viruses from coming to light.

We hold the keys to our own future, so why wait? Act now.


Pandemics May Be Tied to Biodiversity Loss

By Chelsea Hill ’21

(Hill is pictured above)

Previously published in the Morning Call on November 13, 2020

Neither Donald J. Trump nor Joe Biden appear to be in favor of halting fracking in Pennsylvania — but at what cost? From a strict environmental perspective, the list of ramifications is extensive, including possible biodiversity loss. But how does biodiversity loss, let alone fracking, have any relation to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A recent report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services states that it is fully evident that loss of biodiversity and human-caused climate change will cause quarantine season to become a regular attribute to the calendar year.

If we continue to allow the state’s economy to depend on the fracking industry, we are promoting possible biodiversity loss and increasing the chances of more pandemics to occur.


It’s Time Again to Address Climate Change

By Bryn Bernier ’23

Previously published in the Morning Call on November 12, 2020

With confirmation of Joe Biden as the president elect, I hope that it’s time that we as a country begin once more to consider climate change as the serious threat it is. For decades, and most especially the past four years, hard evidence has been dismissed as overreaction, insubstantial or completely false.

But we cannot be late to react, as anthropogenic emissions and environmental destruction have already had palpable impact. Climate change is, without a doubt, one of the most vital issues of our time.

In 2020, the United States has been victim to raging wildfires and heavy tropical storms. (The intensity of both have been steadily increasing over the years.) Our winters are getting shorter and our summers are getting longer by weeks. And most pressingly, the impact of COVID-19 has been disastrous, not only by our delayed and ineffective response, but also by the rampant destruction of wild land and biodiversity which is a proven cause to spread any virus more rapidly than an otherwise intact region.

Pennsylvania agreed to commit to the Paris Agreement climate plans. But it is in our best interests that all 50 states come together to build our best future.


Research Points to Pandemic and Climate Change Connections

By Alec Buttner ’21

Previously published in the Morning Call on November 13

When we think about COVID-19, we commonly look at its connection to current public health crises, lack of access to public health resources, etc. However, this is not the only connection the global pandemic has to international issues.

When taking the course Climate Negotiations on the International Stage at Moravian College, we discussed how the effects of climate change are more than just extreme weather events or higher average temperatures. Climate change has disrupted the natural balance of the world, which can have devastating effects.

As described in the workshop on Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, global temperature increase has affected microbial growth, migration patterns of animals and resource distribution. All of these factors can lead to the emergence of diseases and their rapid spread.

Furthermore, our increased consumption rates of natural resources has left many areas of the globe vulnerable to COVID-19 due to a lack of economic, agricultural and infrastructure. This is truly an example of how widespread the climate crisis is.

Although climate change is not the sole cause for this pandemic, its role in disrupting the natural balance of the world certainly does not help.


Climate Change, Loss of Biodiversity Contribute to Pandemics

By Andrew Goodolf ’22

Previously published by Lehigh Valley Live on November 10

As we continue to experience the international impact of COVID-19, there could not have been a better time for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services to publish its recent workshop report.

The message is clear: Anthropogenic activities continue to increase the risk for emerging diseases because these activities continue to drive biodiversity loss and climate change. It is imperative that we understand that future pandemics will only continue to occur more often, spread faster, and be more harmful to individuals.

As human activities continue to decrease biodiversity and habitat, wildlife and humans are forced to interact more often. These activities will continue to increase the risk for future pandemics. It is estimated that there are more than 1.7 million undiscovered viruses in wildlife, and alarmingly more than half of them have the ability to infect the human population.

It is important to note that more than 70% of emerging diseases are from animal origin. This is not to place blame on or create fear around wildlife, but to bring awareness to the threat associated with our current lifestyle practices. Because climate change, biodiversity loss, and pandemics are all largely driven by the same cause, we have the ability to improve all three areas with similar solutions. These solutions must include populations everywhere across the globe. We must reduce anthropogenic environmental change by reducing drivers of biodiversity loss and unsustainable exploitation of areas with high biodiversity.

To protect future generations, we must begin implementing ways to protect these areas and invest in our global society.

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