Climate change will result in thousands of new viruses being spread among animals by 2070, likely increasing the risk of emerging infectious diseases jumping from animals to humans, a new study warns.
This is particularly true of Africa and Asia, two continents that have been at the forefront of virus transmission from humans to animals and vice versa over the past few decades, particularly with regard to influenza, Ebola and the coronavirus.
The researchers, whose findings will be published in the prestigious science journal Nature on Thursday, used models to study the potential migration of more than 3,000 species of mammals and viral sharing that could emerge over the next 50 years as the planet warms 2 degrees Celsius, which is possible according to the latest studies.
They found that cross-species virus exchange occurs more than 4,000 times in mammals alone. Birds and sea creatures were not part of the study.
The researchers make it clear that not all viruses make the jump to humans and not all will cause a pandemic on the same scale as the coronavirus, but the increase in the number of viruses jumping from one species to another also increases the risk of one spread to humans.
The study highlights two global crises – climate change and the spread of infectious diseases – as the world grapples with how to deal with them.
Previous studies have examined how deforestation, extinction and the wildlife trade lead to spread from animals to humans, but research is more sparse on how climate change might affect such transmissions, the researchers explained.
“We don’t talk much about climate when it comes to zoonoses—diseases that can spread from animals to humans, said one of the study’s co-authors, Georgetown University biology professor Colin Carlson. “Our study brings together the two most pressing crises we face.»
Climate change and infectious disease experts agree that a warmer planet is likely to increase the risk of new viruses emerging.
Daniel R. Brooks, a University of Nebraska biologist, said the study highlights the risk of climate change in terms of increased risk of infectious diseases.
“This particular post is an extremely conservative estimate of the “potential” for the spread of new infectious diseases due to climate change.he warned.
dr Aaron Bernstein, acting director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard University, says the study confirms longstanding doubts about the impact of global warming on the emergence of infectious diseases.
“In particular, note that this study indicates that such encounters may already be more common in places where multiple people live.said dr Amber.
A co-author of the study, Georgetown University ecologist Gregory Albery, said that since infectious diseases caused by climate change are likely already emerging, the planet needs to know about it and prepare for a deal.
“It’s unavoidable, even in the best-case scenario of climate changesaid Mr Albery.
Mr Carlson, who also co-authored the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reminded that we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions and phase out fossil fuels to reduce the risk of infectious disease spreading.
Jaron Browne of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance said the study highlights the injustices affecting people in African and Asian countries.
“African and Asian countries are most at risk from increased exposure to the virus, showing once again that those on the front lines of the crisis are often least responsible for climate change‘ he stressed.
Drew Costley, The Associated Press