#WildlifeMarkets; #WetMarkets; #InfectedBat; #COVID19Pandemic; #Wuhan, #China
New York, Mar 27 (Canadian-Media): Scientists believe that the emergence of the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19 is from one of the wildlife markets, also known as "wet markets" in the Chinese city of Wuhan through an infected bat, media reports said.
Wildlife market. Image credit: Twitter
Bats are just one of the animals, sold at these markets, including domestic livestock and pigs, chickens, civet cats, bamboo rats and porcupines.
The main concern with these markets is a spill over event causing the transfer of viruses from one species to another and then cross over to humans, said Kerry Bowman, an assistant professor and bioethicist at the University of Toronto.
"If we do not deal with this, there is nothing to say that we could not in eighteen months' time have another outbreak, and it could be worse," Bowman said.
Humans will transmit that virus from one person to another, On very rare occasions, which is what occurred with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and is happening with COVID-19.
It was also suggested by scientists that continued existence of wildlife markets would result in the world hit with another deadly pandemic.
Wildlife markets are "a perfect opportunity for the mixing of bacteria and viruses, as well as transmission to other groups," said Jason Stull, assistant professor at the University of Prince Edward Island's Atlantic Veterinary College.
The weakening of immune system of animals due to stress and malnutrition increases the likelihood of an animal to shed higher amounts of virus under duress, said Stull and added,
"All of these things likely can contribute to movement back and forth of diseases."
William Karesh, executive vice president for health and policy at New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, that conducts scientific research on emerging infectious diseases, said about three-fourths of all such diseases are somehow linked to wildlife.
Karesh said that the two possible ways which caused the current coronavirus outbreak was either through an infected wild animal being sold in the market, or an infected vendor in the market which infected customers.
Karesh warned that unless international community comes to grips with the growing and unsustainable use of wildlife, we will "continue to see pandemics."
"There are three to five emerging diseases every year, and only by luck and the grace of God ... they don't turn into pandemics each time."
Bowman emphasized that besides China, wildlife markets are found in the Far East, and extends into Vietnam, a lot of Southeast Asia, Indonesia.
However, shutting down such markets may prove extremely challenging, said Bowman due to thousands of years of these cultural practices and have become part of a multibillion-dollar global industry pegged at somewhere between $7 billion to $23 billion US a year, Bowman said.
#NatureExperiences; #Happiness; #AI
Singapore, Mar 11 (Canadian-Media): An AI analysis of photographs posted on social media revealed a positive association between nature and happiness globally, sciencedaily.com/releases reported.
Image credit: Twitter
Analysis of 31,500 photographs across 185 countries showed that images of fun activities and vacations are more likely to contain elements of nature.
The economic and ecological impact of nature on humans have long been established with prevalent environmental issues such as climate change and over-exploitation of natural resources being the first to cross one's mind. On the other hand, much less attention has been paid to the cultural and social values nature brings to humans.
Even though natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Swiss Alps have been named some of the top holiday destinations, the intangible benefits people gain from experiencing nature are still difficult to quantify, and such studies typically require resource-intensive surveys and interviews.
In order to evaluate the benefits of nature experiences more efficiently and effectively, a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) turned to social media and artificial intelligence (AI) in a study published in Scientific Reports on 5 March 2020.
Led by Associate Professor Roman Carrasco and Dr Chang Chia-chen from the Department of Biological Sciences at NUS Faculty of Science, the research team analysed over 31,500 photographs across 185 countries on social media with the help of an automated image recognition technology.
"Integrating social media data and AI opens up a unique opportunity for us to carry out unprecedented large-scale global studies such as this to better understand our interactions with nature in our daily lives," said Dr Chang, Research Fellow at the Department of Biological Sciences at NUS Faculty of Science and first author of the study.
The team's analysis of the photographs uploaded on social media revealed that photographs tagged as #fun, #vacations and #honeymoons are more likely to contain elements of nature such as plants, water and natural landscape as compared to photographs tagged #daily or #routines. This finding, which is consistent across different countries, provides global evidence of biophilia hypothesis -- human's innate tendency to seek connection with nature -- and implies a positive association between nature and fond memories in memorable events like honeymoons.
The team also found that the amount of nature experiences in a country is linked to the life satisfaction of its residents. Countries which have more elements of nature in photographs tagged as #fun such as Costa Rica and Finland, for instance, possess higher llfe national satisfaction scores according to scores reported in the World Happiness Report 2019.
Collectively, the findings suggest the importance of nature in contributing to emotional happiness, relaxation and life satisfaction in communities worldwide.
Assoc Prof Carrasco said, "Our study brings to light the cultural and social values that nature brings to humans. It further emphasises the importance of preserving our natural environment for the loss of nature may mean more than losing quantifiable economic and ecological benefits; it could also mean losing the background to our fondest memories."
"Our next step is therefore to establish how nature experiences may benefit human well-being such as how it improves our satisfaction in life, hence enabling the development of constructive solutions to better environmental conservation," he added.