Across the world, millions of people have tested positive for Covid-19 – and countless more have seen their lifestyles completely transformed as a result of the virus. It is not yet known exactly what triggered the current outbreak, but researchers suspect that the virus passed from bats to humans through an unknown intermediary animal, possibly a pangolin. Politicians in the UK have called this pandemic a “once-in-a-century” crisis. But scientists have warned that the ongoing disturbance of species through human activities and climate change could be raising the risk of potentially pandemic-causing diseases passing from animals to humans. The study of the “spillover” of disease from animals to humans has received renewed focus in light of the pandemic. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – a major international collaboration of climate scientists – is now looking into how the influence of warming on such events could be included in its next major climate report due next year. In this explainer, Carbon Brief examines what is known about how climate change and biodiversity disturbance, including habitat loss and human-animal conflict, could influence the risk of diseases being transmitted from animals to humans.
Carbon Brief 15th May 2020 read more »