A new fracking initiative has been formalized by the Colombian government in cooperation with the state enterprise Ecopetrol. The first of four exploratory projects will take place in Puerto Wilches, a small community located next to the Magdalena River, one of the largest in Colombia. Fracking has been associated with water pollution, which could lead to severe consequences for local people’s livelihoods and the region as a whole. Social and environmental activists have received death threats and have grown increasingly vulnerable since 2016. Nevertheless, protests have emerged and will likely continue, despite COVID-19 restrictions.
The novel infectious disease – SARS-CoV-2 – is nature’s alert to humans. Existing research on the links between animal-borne diseases, human behavior and environmental change clearly demonstrate how humans and the environment are intrinsically connected, however currently in a profound imbalance. Already 70% of “new or emerging” diseases that infect humans originate in animals. In the wake of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak and associated vast global health, security and economic damage, the environment-related underlying root causes of animal-borne diseases cannot be ignored any longer.