Experts believe the next deadly human pandemic will almost certainly be a virus that spills over from wildlife to humans. The reasons why have a lot to do with the frenetic pace with which we are destroying wild places and disrupting ecosystems. Emerging diseases are in the news again. Scary viruses are making themselves noticed and felt. There’s been a lot of that during the past several months — West Nile fever kills 17 people in the Dallas area, three tourists succumb to hantavirus after visiting Yosemite National Park, an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo claims 33 lives. A separate Ebola outbreak, across the border in Uganda, registers a death toll of 17. A peculiar new coronavirus, related to SARS, proves fatal for a Saudi man and puts a Qatari into critical condition, while disease scientists all over the world wonder: Is this one — or is that one — going to turn into the Next Big One?
China and India joined almost all other major greenhouse gas emitters Tuesday in signing up to the climate accord struck in Copenhagen, boosting a deal strongly favored by the United States. More than 100 nations have now endorsed the Copenhagen Accord, a non-binding agreement reached after two weeks of tortuous wrangling at a 194-nation summit in December. The accord plans $100 billion a year in climate aid for developing nations from 2020 and seeks to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times, but produced no timetable of emission limits to reach that goal.