The climate crisis and future pandemics could kill more people than all the nuclear bombs worldwide.
Nature has its own set of rules and regulations. Just like our human body! What happens when an unknown pathogen enters the body? Our immune system would try to get rid of it, or it could harm us. This also applies to nature.
Animals migrate in response to ecological factors, which determine the style and intensity of migration. Animal migration patterns will be affected if climate change alters these factors.
There are 10,000 species of virus that can harm humans, but a large proportion are currently circulating in wild mammals. But as the climate and land use change, there will be a greater chance that previously isolated wildlife species will share these viruses.
According to research, this contact between humans and animals will lead to mutations and virus transmissions.
The study model
The study illustrates how climate change could affect the migration patterns of thousands of animals through detailed modelling. This will result in almost 15,000 new cases of viral transmission between species by 2070.
The results of the study imply that this scenario of large-scale viral spread will emerge. As predicted by scientists, the majority of these events are thought to occur between 2011 and 2040, suggesting that many of them may already be happening.
Scientists say that while limiting temperature increases to 2oC or less is a desirable goal, it will not always lead to a decrease in viral spread.
In other words, even if we reduce climate change, we are likely to face substantial changes in animal movements and significant viral transmission. To avoid the worst-case scenario, we can take additional initiatives.
Due to the uncertainty surrounding how land will be used over the next fifty years, the authors’ model relies on several land use scenarios, including changes in deforestation, agricultural land use and human settlements.
None of this, however, is inevitable. We can ensure that the way we use the earth reduces its harmful effects and stops the spread of the next pandemic.
This is only possible if we can regain control over how land is used and democratically decide what the best use should be, instead of leaving it to capitalist markets.
Real estate and agribusiness have disproportionate control over where and how land is developed right now because our governments are beholden to corporate interests. As a result, there has been an uncontrolled number of large house constructions that often encroach deep into important ecological niches.
Sixty-seven percent of coastal wetlands have already been destroyed as a direct result of this trend. These wetlands are essential for supporting local ecosystems, reducing flood risk, storing carbon and preventing erosion.
Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right administration quickly destroyed the Amazon rainforest in Brazil to make more agricultural land available.
Destroying the Amazon, a major carbon sink, could prevent the rest of the world from limiting global warming to increases of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius.
Species will cluster in new combinations at high altitudes, say scientists. In biodiversity hotspots and regions of high human population density in Asia and Africa, they cause an estimated 4,000-fold increase in the transmission of their related viruses between species.
Bats are responsible for most new viral spreads due to their exceptional ability to disperse. They are likely to transfer viruses in evolutionary patterns that will help them appear in humans in the future.
It will be difficult to stop the transmission of viruses on a large scale. No matter how forward-thinking the answer, if we don’t have the ability to put it into action, we’ll just be loud-mouthed prophets of doom.
Whatever the challenges and struggles, it’s not like we have another earth or a billionaire to move to Mars. There’s no rule that says climate science has to be apocalyptic, but that’s only true if we’re willing to recognize the urgency of mobilizing a large-scale effort to save the earth.