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Humanity is bullying nature – and we will pay the price, WWF chief tells FRANCE 24

Wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years, according to a major..



Wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years, according to a major report by the World Wildlife Fund. FRANCE 24 spoke to the conservation groups director-general about the staggering loss of Earth's biodiversity, its implications for humanity, and what steps should be taken to reverse this catastrophic decline.

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Human activity has severely degraded three quarters of all land and 40 percent of Earth's oceans, and the quickening destruction of nature is likely to have grave consequences on our health and livelihoods, according to the 2020 edition of the Living Planet Index, which was released on Thursday.

A collaboration between WWF International and the Zoological Society of London, the Index said increasing deforestation and agricultural expansion were the key drivers behind a 68 percent decline in global populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish between 1970 and 2016. It warned that continued natural habitat loss increased the risk of future pandemics as humans come into ever closer contact with wild animals.

In an interview with FRANCE 24, Marco Lambertini, the director-general of WWF International, said the coronavirus pandemic has helped raise awareness of the direct link between biodiversity loss and vital threats to humanity. He urged world leaders to agree on a goal to reverse catastrophic nature loss, similar to the targets set for climate at a UN summit in Paris in 2015.

FRANCE 24: Weve heard – and often ignored – such dire warnings before. Were even you surprised by the scale of nature loss this time?

Marco Lambertini: I was shocked, but not surprised. The decline is so steep it is almost difficult to believe it can happen in such a short period of time, compared to the millions of years these species have been on the planet. The surprise, perhaps, is that despite the many warnings the trend is still negative and in fact is almost accelerating. It is shocking, it is sad, because we are failing in our moral duty to respect these other life forms. But there is a new message too and, perhaps, a glimmer of hope: we are actually beginning to look at these figures and get worried. Its an important cultural shift, from being sad about extinction and deforestation to actually begin to be worried. Weve seen it happen with climate, now we are beginning to see it also with biodiversity loss. That gives me hope. You need to get worried before you actually do something about it.

Is the fight to preserve nature shifting from a moral duty to an existential struggle for humans too?

Rather than shifting from one to the other, I would say we are starting to understand it as both. There are still many people who are rightly appalled by what we are doing, by this ecocide driven by humans. As the dominant species, we are bullying nature in a way that is unacceptable. On the other hand, we are beginning to understand that we are the ones who are going to pay the price. The planet will survive one way or another, biodiversity will come back, forests will come back. But whether our societies can survive, thats a big question mark, one that is very worrying for our children. The horizon we are talking about here is not hundreds of years – its decades.

How did it come to this? Have we failed to see that by hurting nature were hurting ourselves?

There is, to some extent, an opposition between an anthropocentric view of the world and a biocentric one. In the former, human kind is at the centre of everything and comes first, while in the latter, we understand that we have to control our behaviours and be stewards rather than exploiters. But I would say there is something deeper, almost in our genes. Like other species, weve been evolving and fighting in a very difficult environment for the majority of our life history. We have developed the hunter-gatherer approach to survive day by day, thats what most species do. That mentality is still in us, but we need to understand that it is an unsustainable approach and that we cannot continue this way. We are almost 8 billion, with the technology to hurt nature like never before. We have to change our relationship with the planet, from grabbing, without thinking of the consequences, to managing.

Of course, inequality is driving the ecological footprint at different speeds. Some people consume far beyond the limits of the planet while others still struggle to make a living and find food. But the destruction of nature is hurting poor communities most. Rich economies are able to withstand this impact for longer, whereas the people who depend directly on nature, such as subsistence farmers, will find it much harder to cope.

Has the coronavirus pandemic helped bring this reality home to people, in a more explicit way?

In this tragic situation there is perhaps, awfully, a useful lesson in the connection between nature and human health, and the fact that by destroying forests, by consuming and poaching wildlife we expose ourselves to risks that are simply not worth it. The statistics are striking: 60 percent of emerging diseases with potential to become pandemics come from interaction with wildlife. It is most likely the next pandemic will come again from one of these zoonotic diseases [that jump from animals to humans]. So yes, there is a growing awareness.

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How does overeating affect the immune system?



Overeating is a common problem that affects millions of people worldwide. While it is widely understood that excessive eating leads to obesity and other health problems, many people are unaware of the impact that overeating has on the immune system. In this article, we will explore how overeating affects the immune system and what can be done to prevent or mitigate the damage.

The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against harmful substances and infections. It is responsible for identifying and eliminating harmful pathogens and other invaders that may cause harm to the body. When the body is functioning normally, the immune system works efficiently to keep us healthy. However, when the body is subjected to chronic stress, such as from overeating, it can become weakened, making it less effective at protecting the body against illness and disease.

One of the ways in which overeating affects the immune system is by increasing inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury or infection, but when it becomes chronic, it can have a negative impact on the immune system. Chronic inflammation is associated with a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of glucose and other harmful substances as a result of overeating, it can lead to chronic inflammation, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

Another way in which overeating affects the immune system is by altering the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract and play a crucial role in maintaining good health. When the body is exposed to a high-fat diet, the balance of gut bacteria can become disrupted, leading to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and the suppression of beneficial bacteria. This can result in decreased gut function and reduced immune function, making it more difficult for the body to protect itself against harmful pathogens.

In addition, overeating can also lead to obesity, which is a major risk factor for a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Obesity is associated with a range of physiological changes, including insulin resistance and the release of cytokines, which are signaling molecules that play a crucial role in the immune response. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of cytokines, it can lead to a state of chronic inflammation, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

Finally, overeating can also affect the immune system by causing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when the body is exposed to an excessive amount of free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules that can cause damage to cells and tissues. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of glucose and other harmful substances as a result of overeating, it can lead to oxidative stress, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

In conclusion, overeating can have a profound impact on the immune system. By increasing inflammation, altering the gut microbiome, causing obesity, and inducing oxidative stress, overeating can weaken the body’s ability to protect itself against harmful pathogens and other invaders. To maintain a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, engage in regular exercise, and avoid overeating. By taking these simple steps, you can help protect your immune system and reduce your risk of illness and disease.

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Homelessness and mental illness are two intertwined issues that have a complex relationship. Homelessness can cause or worsen mental illness and, conversely, mental illness can contribute to homelessness. It is a vicious cycle that can be difficult to escape, and it is important to understand the ways in which these two issues are interconnected.

Homelessness can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health. Living on the streets can be a traumatic experience, with a constant fear of violence, theft, and disease. Homeless individuals often face stigma, discrimination, and a lack of privacy, which can lead to feelings of shame, hopelessness, and isolation. The stress and unpredictability of homelessness can trigger or exacerbate mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mental illness, on the other hand, can also contribute to homelessness. Mental illness can make it difficult for individuals to maintain employment, manage their finances, and maintain stable housing. Individuals with mental illness may struggle with accessing treatment and support, and the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness can also contribute to feelings of shame and isolation. These challenges can lead to a cycle of homelessness and mental illness, where each issue exacerbates the other.

There is a need for a coordinated and comprehensive approach to addressing homelessness and mental illness. This includes providing safe and stable housing, access to mental health treatment and support, and addressing the underlying social determinants of health that contribute to homelessness, such as poverty, lack of education and job opportunities.

Housing First, a program that prioritizes providing permanent housing to homeless individuals before addressing any other issues, has been shown to be effective in reducing homelessness and improving mental health outcomes. This approach recognizes that stable housing is a critical foundation for addressing other issues, including mental health.

In conclusion, homelessness and mental illness are complex and interrelated issues that require a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address. Providing stable housing and access to mental health treatment and support is critical for breaking the cycle of homelessness and mental illness and improving outcomes for individuals experiencing these issues. It is important to continue to address the root causes of homelessness, including poverty and lack of access to education and employment opportunities, to reduce the prevalence of homelessness and improve outcomes for those experiencing it.

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Improving Reception For Children With Cancer – Basque Family Support Association



The association “Tous avec Agosti” wants 2023 to rhyme with new dynamics. For nine years now, the structure has been working to welcome families of hospitalized children in Bayonne. Since 2018, 47 families have been able to find some respite in an apartment in Anglet.

Apartment in Anglet

Since she has benefited from an apartment in Anglet, the association “Tous avec Agosti” has enabled nearly 50 families of patients hospitalized at the Center Hospitalier de la Côte Basque to stay close to their loved ones. This represents 600 overnight stays, 47 families from 23 departments and even from Belgium and Spain. At the beginning of 2023, the structure has just had its prefectural approval renewed and sees things big.

“We have been working in our area for years,” notes Frédéric de Arroyave, the association’s president, but “in 2023, we will show ourselves much more, on the markets for example, but also in acts. The apartment we have in Anglet is a haven of peace for families going through terrible times, but for some it is difficult to access”. The apartment is located on the alleys of the Jardins d’Arcadie, near Biarritz – Pays Basque airport. We want to get closer to the Bayonne hospital.

The association “Tous avec Agosti” was born in 2015. Agosti, 10 years old, is suffering from cancer and taken care of at Bordeaux hospital for 6 months. His father, Frédéric de Arroyave, living in Ahetze, has the possibility of integrating a parents’ house and can stay with his child. Such a structure did not exist in Bayonne, so he launched the project and the association which lives today thanks to donations from contributors and the dozen (very) active volunteers. Each year, approximately 4,000 children are hospitalized in Bayonne.

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