Scientists think that climate change will lead to more and more animals being forced to move their habitats to regions populated by people.
While that obviously puts both humans and animals in various types of danger, one that is not usually considered as much is the increase in the risk of starting another pandemic.
This is because viruses could more easily manage to jump to humans, causing another huge outbreak.
That’s right! Researchers predict that, as the planet’s overall temperature increases, so will the possibility of experiencing other major pandemics following COVID-19.
This link between viral transmissions and climate change has been discussed in a new research paper by an international team led by Georgetown University scientists.
The research titled “Climate change increases cross-species viral transmission risk” was published in the journal Nature and is the first ever comprehensive assessment of how climate change will lead to restructuring the global mammalian virome.
The team focused on the journeys that some species will be forced to take as their habitats are destroyed, moving into new areas most likely populated by humans, and sharing thousands of viruses!
Due to the fact that such viruses will emerge in new places, they will be more difficult to track as they’ll jump from species to species, mutating and gaining the ability to infect humans as well.
Colin Carlson, lead author of this study and assistant research professor at the Center for Global Health Science and Security from Georgetown University Medical Center, explains that “The closest analogy is in fact the risks we see in wildlife trade. We worry about markets because bringing unhealthy animals together in unnatural combinations creates opportunities for this stepwise process of emergence – like how SARS jumped from bats to civets, then civets to people. But markets aren’t special anymore; in a changing climate, that kind of process will be the reality in nature just about everywhere.”
The research suggests that climate change will also soon become the dominant risk factor when it comes to the emergence of new diseases, being an even bigger cause for possible pandemics than things like wildlife trade, deforestation, or industrial agriculture.