Nine things we can do now to protect the environment and reduce the risk of another pandemic

Important ways we can help minimize the risk of future disease by rethinking how we farm, eat, trade and interact with other species

Photo of human buildings next to forest.
Photo © iStockphoto.com | luoman
Photo of one large gorilla and three smaller gorillas
As farmland and cities eat into the edges of forests, the odds increase that humans will cross paths wild animals capable of transmitting new disease to us. Photo courtesy of youngrobv | Flickr
Photo of a flood.
A warmer, wetter climate sets the stage for increased spread of infectious disease. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Schofield U.S. Coast Guard District 9
Map of 59 maximum containment labs — known as biosafety level 4 (BSL4) labs
There are now 59 maximum containment labs — known as biosafety level 4 (BSL4) labs — operating or in some stage of planning worldwide, and there is a risk of a pandemic starting from the accidental escape of a pathogen from one of them. Photo courtesy of Filippa Lentzos. Click here for an interactive version.
Photo of crowded urban setting.
Better urban planning can help control the spread of infectious disease and enhance our ability to deal with future pandemics. Photo © iStockphoto.com/powerofforever
Photo of Asian tiger mosquito
Spread accidentally through shipping, the Asian tiger mosquito is emerging around the world as a formidable carrier of infectious disease. Photo courtesy of budak | Flickr
Photo of Industrial poultry production
Industrial poultry production can facilitate the spread of avian influenza. Photo © iStockphoto.com | ArtistGNDphotography
Photo of civet cat
Civet cats and other wild animals traded as pets can carry emerging infectious diseases from their native lands to distant countries and continents. Photo © iStockphoto.com | SPmemory
photo of child in nature.
Research suggests that exposure to microbes found in nature can help a child develop a strong immune system. Photo courtesy of Allan Mas | Pexels

More pandemics like Covid-19 are certain if humanity continues to upset the balance of nature.

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Ensia is a solutions-focused nonprofit media outlet reporting on our changing planet.