Avoiding the loss of human life and the economic fallout caused by future pandemics will require a seismic change in our approach to the causes of the emergence of disease-causing viruses, according to a new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES. Peter Daszak, who chaired the July 2020 workshop that produced the report, noted that we’ve identified only about 2,000 of the 1.7 million viruses that exist in birds and mammals. Scientists estimate that between 540,000 and 850,000 of these could infect humans. “It’s quite interesting that we don’t know this diversity,” Daszak, also the president of the environmental health nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, said in a press call on Oct. 29. “We keep seeing these new viruses emerging and causing diseases in people. So why aren’t we going out there and treating this as a form of diversity that we really need to understand?” The report’s authors recommend identifying species at high risk of carrying diseases that can be passed to humans, or zoonoses, as a proactive way to deal with pandemics. Image courtesy of IPBES. The findings of around 700 scientific studies referenced in the Oct. 29 report demonstrate that we understand the impacts that humans have that lead to potential pandemics. Climate change, the expansion of agricultural land and the wildlife trade can all expose humans to new viruses that neither our immune systems nor our health care systems are equipped to handle. Rather than solely reacting to future outbreaks with…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer