America Is About to Lose Its 200,000th Life to Coronavirus. How Many More Have to Die?
As another grim milestone approaches, here are the lessons officials ignored and what the country needs to do to prevent further tragedy.
 
As an editor, I’ve long had mixed feelings about the journalistic tradition of marking particular chronological or numerical milestones. No one wanted to avoid the “Sept. 11: One Year Later” package — and I was eager to do it given the six previous years I’d spent directing global coverage of al-Qaida — but the annual stories seemed far more forced by Sept. 11, 2005.
 
More recently, we’ve seen stories like “World War I: A Century Later” or “The 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II.” They’re often illuminating, but they don’t have deeper meaning than stories that might have been published on the 99th or 74th anniversary of those events.
 
And yet, there are milestones worth stopping to consider. At ProPublica, it was Andrea Wise, a story producer working for us on contract, who in early May asked: What are we planning for the 100,000th confirmed COVID-19 death? The result was a story we published on May 27 by Caroline Chen that looked back at how we got here and forward to how we might avoid reaching another grim milestone. As we wrote at the time: “The full tragedy of the pandemic hinges on one question: How do we stop the next 100,000?”
 
The sad, infuriating answer for the country that spends more per capita on health care than any other in the world: We couldn’t.
 
That makes this a moment worthy of some reflection. The United States will record the 200,000th COVID-19 death in days, just four months after the toll hit 100,000. Caroline pointed out in May that the best way to slow the spread of the virus would be to deploy “the oldest mitigation tactics in the public health arsenal.” That would have meant widespread testing to identify those who had caught the virus, quarantining and tracing the contacts of both symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers who could spread the disease to the most vulnerable.
“Being slow to act comes with a terrible cost,” she wrote.
 
Caroline and I had pulled together a list of many of the steps to slow down the virus in a road map we addressed to the nation’s governors back in April. Our advice was drawn from interviews with health authorities and experts in countries that were successfully battling the pandemic.
 
Hardly any states followed the practices that had worked well elsewhere. Instead, we saw President Donald Trump convene an indoor political rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, attended by thousands of people, some of whom have since died of COVID-19. In Sturgis, South Dakota, motorcycle enthusiasts proudly refused to wear masks or socially distance; that gathering has recorded its first fatality from the virus. Inexorably, the novel coronavirus marched across the United States, spreading from New York City and Seattle into the smaller cities and then the suburbs and rural communities. It displayed no real preference for blue or red states, though it has disproportionately harmed Black, Latino and poorer communities.
 
Our reaction? As a nation, we became inured to a national death toll that has only recently dropped below a thousand people a day. Think about that. Every week, we lose far more of our fellow citizens than died 19 years ago in the most devastating terrorist strike in American history. Continue Reading… 
 
This column was originally published in Not Shutting Up, a newsletter about the issues facing journalism and democracy. Sign up for it here.
 
 
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    COMMENTS

    Ramesh Popat

    5 days ago

    will anyone kill the killerS!?!

    Wildlife population declined by 68% since 1970: WWF
    Global populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish have suffered an average two-thirds' decline in less than half a century. This has contributed to environmental degradation, leading to the emergence of zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19, according to WWF's Living Planet Report, 2020.
     
    The Living Planet Index (LPI) shows that factors believed to increase the planet's vulnerability to pandemics -- including land-use change and the use and trade of wildlife -- were also some of the drivers behind the 68 per cent average decline in global vertebrate species population between 1970 and 2016.
     
    "The Living Planet Report, 2020 underlines how humanity's increasing destruction of nature is having catastrophic impact not only on wildlife populations but also on human health and all aspects of our lives," said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International.
     
    "We can't ignore the evidence -- the serious decline in wildlife species populations are an indicator that nature is unravelling and that our planet is flashing red-warning signs of system failure. From the fish in our oceans and rivers to bees which play a crucial role in our agricultural production, the decline of wildlife affects nutrition, food security and livelihoods of billions of people," he added.
     
    In the midst of a global pandemic, it is now more important than ever to take unprecedented and coordinated global action to halt and start to reverse the loss of biodiversity and wildlife populations across the globe by the end of the decade and protect our future health and livelihoods.
     
    The Living Planet Report, 2020 presents a comprehensive overview of the state of our natural world through the LPI which tracks trends in global wildlife abundance with contributions from more than 125 experts from around the world.
     
    It shows that the main cause of the dramatic decline in species populations on land observed in the LPI is habitat loss and degradation, including deforestation driven by how we as a humanity produce food.
     
    The LPI, which tracked almost 21,000 populations of more than 4,000 vertebrate species between 1970 and 2016, also shows that wildlife populations found in freshwater habitats have suffered a decline of 84 per cent -- the starkest average population decline in any biome equivalent to 4 per cent per year since 1970.
     
    One example is the spawning population of the Chinese sturgeon in China's Yangtze river which declined by 97 per cent between 1982 and 2015 due to the damming of the waterway.
     
    Based on a paper, bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy co-authored by WWF and more than 40 NGOs and academic institutions and published in 'Nature' on Saturday, the LPR, 2020 also includes pioneering modelling which shows that without further efforts to counteract habitat loss and degradation, global biodiversity will continue to decline.
     
    The modelling makes clear that stabilizing and reversing the loss of nature caused by humans' destruction of natural habitats will only be possible if bolder, more ambitious conservation efforts are embraced and transformational changes made to the way we produce and consume food.
     
    Changes needed include making food production and trade more efficient and ecologically sustainable, reducing waste and favouring healthier and more environment-friendly diets.
     
    The research shows that implementing these measures together rather than in isolation will allow the world to rapidly alleviate pressures on wildlife habitats. The modelling also indicates that if the world carries on with "business as usual", rates of biodiversity loss seen since 1970 will continue over the coming years.
     
    "The focus of Living Planet Report, 2020 is to reiterate a scientific case for the urgent action we need to protect and restore nature and biodiversity," said Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF India.
     
    "This year has seen catastrophic events across the country and the world -- forest fires, cyclones, locust plagues and the Covid-19 pandemic. These events have shaken the world's environmental conscience and forced us to rethink and reset our relationship with nature," he added.
     
    For a megadiverse country like India which has been seeing a decline in forests, natural wetlands and marine biodiversity due to factors like urbanisation, land degradation, pollution and land use change, bolder conservation efforts are key to reversing the trend.
     
    "Only an integrated approach, bringing together diverse stakeholders, including governments, businesses, communities, schools, media and civil society, will succeed in restoring the balance of nature. Biodiversity conservation should be a non-negotiable and strategic investment to protect the very web of life that underpins the health and livelihoods of people."
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    COMMENTS

    s5rwav

    2 weeks ago

    Corporate Greed Supported by Govt Functionaries Ignoring Common Man Pleas is Root Cause.

    The Climate Crisis Is Happening Right Now. Just Look at California’s Weekend.
    Record high temperatures. Record fires. Record smoke. ProPublica reporter Elizabeth Weil spoke to former California Gov. Jerry Brown about the state’s converging apocalypses.
     
    Two weeks ago, after freak lightning strikes torched Northern California but before the inferno of Labor Day weekend had begun, a friend called to talk, like you do when the world is turning to crap and nothing is stable or makes sense. In the past six months she’d fled New York for rural West Marin (due to the pandemic), and West Marin for San Francisco (due to smoke). Now she was planning to leave San Francisco for Los Angeles, as the gross air had descended here. We joked, as I’d joked with every friend this summer, that we should all just drop out and start a commune on a lake in Maine. “Every commune needs lesbians!” she said. “I’ll be our lesbian! California is going to become unlivable!”
     
    Two weeks ago, this was a funny conversation. By Sunday, it was not.
     
    This was the weekend that climate change, in California, stopped being about the future. The weekend that the idea that COVID-19 was worse than climate change, or fascism was worse than climate change, disappeared. The experts, of course, had known this for some time. But by the point August turned into September, the drumbeat of California’s environmental anomalies had grown so horrid and relentless that not even the professionals could stay detached.
     
    Way back, a lifetime ago, on Sept. 3, Daniel Swain, UCLA’s extreme-weather climate scientist who’s made a name from himself by tweeting, in plain language, just what the hell is going on, wrote, “This *gesturing wildly and in every direction* is utterly exhausting.”
     
    Still, through Friday the 4th and into Saturday the 5th, Swain tried his professional best to keep his readers up to date on the all-time record high temperatures in a staggering number of California cities and the unheard-of airlift rescue of 200 people from the Creek Fire surrounding Mammoth Lake.
     
    But by Saturday evening, his emotional and lexicographical reserves were growing thin. “Yeah, it is almost literally unbelievable, but I’ve been saying that a lot lately,” he wrote while commenting how the Creek Fire had exploded to more than 100,000 acres even before it reached the part of the Sierra where, due to climate change, bark beetles killed millions of trees.
     
    For a moment early Sunday morning, he appeared to get his vocabulary and mojo back: “Active pyrocumulonimbus ("fire thunderstorm") activity occurred through night — resembling volcanic eruption …”
     
    But by 8 a.m. he’d exhausted his vocabulary and himself: “These are getting harder and harder to write.”
     
    The stakes had shifted; the essential subject-object dynamic changed. The earth — at least the part of it that is California — was no longer a backdrop for our actions, the set of our play. It had become the diva, the star of our horrible drama, the villain demolishing cascades of plans for all of us little specks hubristic enough to believe we could still make them.
     
    Midmorning Sunday, hoping to escape the heat and smoke, I walked across San Francisco’s Great Highway, on the far western edge of the city, to Ocean Beach. Last year, the city closed part of the Great Highway due to blowing sand (and it plans to move a whole stretch in the future due to sea level rise).
     
    This spring, the city closed the road again, so residents could exercise, socially distanced. Then on Sunday, Mayor London Breed shut down not just the Great Highway but the parking lots along Ocean Beach. Labor Day weekend is Burning Man weekend in the traditional Bay Area calendar.
     
    Given that Burning Man 2020 was canceled, 1,000 people gathered Saturday night on the beach instead.
     
    The next day the mayor called the partiers “absolutely reckless and selfish,” and she closed the beach parking to make an example of them. Continue Reading
     
     
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