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Not only does climate change increase water levels which contribute to epic droughts, storms, wildfires, flooding, and heatwaves.
It also helps viruses like Zika and yellow fever to spread as mosquitoes migrate into more countries. And it may have been a factor
in the latest pandemic.
Shifts in bat habitat in Southern China
The research, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, identified shifts in bat habitat in the southern Chinese province of Yunnan and neighboring areas of Myanmar and Laos, a place where bats may have originated with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Migration of Species
Some areas that were once covered with shrubs and smaller plants became forests, a perfect place for bats to live, as climate change made it colder and sunnier in the region over the last century, and extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere made plants and trees grow faster. The study showed that in the last 100 years, 40 bat species have migrated to the city, making it a coronavirus hot spot. For more exciting stuff please subscribe to our Facebook Page
Visit of the WHO investigation team to Wuhan
The visit of the WHO investigation team Wuhan did not change a major theory about where the virus came from. Scientists think bats are the most likely carriers, and that they passed it on to another animal, which passed it on to humans. While there are other possibilities — a bat could have infected a human directly, for instance — the path through a second animal remains the most likely scenario, according to the WHO team and its Chinese counterparts. The question is what animal and where.
The animals brought around 100 new types of coronavirus to the region, one of which is genetically similar to the virus in the current outbreak.
Humans are upsetting the balance of nature
Climate change is not the only problem; as humans have ruined the habitat of wildlife, it is becoming even more likely that humans will come into contact with wild animals and that viruses will make the transition to humans. The expansion of urban areas, farmland, and hunting grounds into natural habitats is a key driver of zoonotic disease transmissions—they are what puts many pathogen-carrying animals and humans into contact in the first place. For more exciting stuff please subscribe to our Facebook Page
In other words, climate change can move pathogens closer to humans. It can also move a species that carries a virus into the habitat of another species that the virus can then jump to—a step that might not have occurred without climate change, and that might have major long-term consequences for where the virus can go next.
Around 60% of the new incidents of infectious diseases currently come from wildlife. Especially likely to be a vector are bats
that bear at least 3,000 forms of coronavirus. The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus was possibly caused by bats (before being transmitted to camels). SARS and SARS-CoV-2 are the same; bats living in the region mapped in the study bear strains of coronavirus very close to each of those viruses, which could have jumped through a wildlife market from bats to palm civets and pangolins before jumping into humans.
With climate change putting more bat species into contact in some regions, viruses are more likely to spread and thrive in wildlife.
Countries are taking measures to safeguard wildlife habitats and to help monitor hunting and farming, ensuring that people are less likely to come into contact with contaminated animals that could cause the next pandemic, the study states. Yet it also makes one more case for cutting emissions fast.
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