We’re all sick of hearing about covid-19 by now, but most of us take our environment for granted, including the viruses and bacteria that always surround us.
While some bacteria and viruses can have a catastrophic effect on us, most of them have played a part in our evolution as a species and how we react to our environment.
BBC Future just did a report on why the world needs viruses to function.
Why the world needs viruses to function
By Rachel Nuwer June 17th, 2020
If all viruses disappeared, the world would be very different — and not necessarily for the better. But what exactly would happen?
Viruses seem to exist solely to wreak havoc on society and bring suffering to humanity. They have cost untold lives over the millennia, often knocking out significant chunks of the global population – from the 1918 influenza epidemic which killed 50 to 100 million people to the estimated 200 million who died from smallpox in the 20th Century alone. The current Covid-19 pandemic is just one in a series of ongoing and never-ending deadly viral assaults.
If given the choice to magically wave a wand and cause all viruses to disappear, most people would probably jump at that opportunity, especially now. Yet this would be a deadly mistake – deadlier, in fact, than any virus could ever be.
“If all viruses suddenly disappeared, the world would be a wonderful place for about a day and a half, and then we’d all die – that’s the bottom line,” says Tony Goldberg, an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “All the essential things they do in the world far outweigh the bad things.”