What We're Reading: February 2016

February's latest and greatest reads on deforestation, global health, and everything in between.

1. "How Forest Loss is Leading to a Rise in Human Disease" by Jim Robbins at Yale Environment 360

You've heard us say it time and time again: human and planetary health are inextricably linked. Author Jim Robbins highlights the recent study published in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseasesshowing that there has been a steep rise in malaria in areas of Malaysian Borneo where there is extreme deforestation. Forest loss creates ideal conditions for mosquito breeding, which is bad news for communities when it comes to infectious diseases like dengue, malaria, and yellow fever, to name a few. This is great read if you want to find out why scientists are worried that the next big pandemic could come from the forest.

Fires in Indonesia in 2015 | Photo: Global Forest Watch

Fires in Indonesia in 2015 | Photo: Global Forest Watch

2. "Why are we still losing so much rainforest in Indonesia? A hypothesis" by Nathanael Johnson at Grist

After months of reporting and witnessing the horrific impact of last year's El Niño, author Nathanael Johnson offers his "educated guess" on why rain forests are still being lost at a rapid rate in Indonesia. In the article, the author brings up the important question: are small farmers to blame for forest loss? Research shows that a majority of the fires in 2015 were started on land managed by small farmers and outside of big plantations. It is true - In Indonesia many rural farmers use slash-and-burn methods. This begs the question: "So is this a classic case of poverty versus the environment? Is deforestation necessary to lift rural Indonesians out of poverty?" The problem is that these farmers don't have access to the resources or training to pursue sustainable alternative livelihoods (which is what we are working to solve with our partner ASRI!). The issue gets a lot more complex from there, but we highly recommend that you take a few minutes to read this piece.

3. "The hidden environmental factors behind the spread of Zika and other devastating diseases" by Chris Mooney at Washington Post

Speaking of diseases spread by mosquitoes, you've probably heard of Zika virus, which has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization. We know that the disease is transmitted to people through the Aedes mosquito, but author Chris Mooney sheds light on how "human alterations to their environments, in the broadest sense, can empower disease-carrying organisms like Aedes and the viruses they bring with them." This is yet another example of how things like urbanization, building dams, and deforestation can make us more susceptible to getting mosquito-borne illnesses.


About Darya Minovi | View all posts by Darya Minovi

Darya is the Communications and Outreach Manager at Health In Harmony, based in Portland, OR. After studying Public Health and Environmental Policy at the College of William and Mary, Darya knew she wanted to dedicate her career to protecting human and environmental health. When she's not at work, you can find Darya enjoying the great outdoors, exploring Portland's farmers markets, or watching live music.