There are actually many reasons we need a new attitude to nature. I have just found another one.
Professor Thomas Gillespie said,
“Wildlife everywhere is being put under more stress, he says. “Major landscape changes are causing animals to lose habitats, which means species become crowded together and also come into greater contact with humans. Species that survive change are now moving and mixing with different animals and with humans.”
According to Gillespie the spread of Lyme disease is another example of a disease that was facilitated, if not caused by our disturbance of forests. People who live close to forests are more likely to get bitten by a tick that carries the Lyme pathogen.
Gillespie sees this in the US, where suburbs fragment forests and raise the risk of humans contracting Lyme disease. “Altering the ecosystem affects the complex cycle of the Lyme pathogen. People living close by are more likely to get bitten by a tick carrying Lyme bacteria.” As John Vidal reported in the Guardian,
“Richard Ostfeld, distinguished senior scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York pointed out that “human health research seldom considers the surrounding natural ecosystems, there’s misapprehension among scientists and the public that natural ecosystems are the source of threats to ourselves. It’s a mistake. Nature poses threats, it is true, but it’s human activities that do the real damage. The health risks in a natural environment can be made much worse when we interfere with it”
Ostfeld also pointed out that rats and bats are often the problem because they are strongly linked to the spread of zoonotic disease because they are the most likely to promote the transmission of pathogens. That’s why he says, “The more we disturb the forests and habitats the more danger we are in.”
Felicia Keesing, professor of biology at Bard College, New York, added another dimension to the problem. She said, “When we erode biodiversity, we see a proliferation of the species most likely to transmit new diseases to us, but there’s also good evidence that those same species are the best hosts for existing diseases.” It reminds me of what Viktor Frankel said about the Nazi death camps: the worst of us survived.
We have to be very careful when we mess with nature. That is not something we are accustomed to doing. We are accustomed to doing with nature as we please. As we are now learning, that can be very dangerous.