A warmer planet, sicker animals

Climate change will push many animals to flee their ecosystems for more livable lands: by mixing more, species will also transmit their viruses more, which will promote the emergence of new diseases potentially transmissible to humans, predicts a study.

By cross-checking climate models, data on the destruction of natural habitats, and the way viruses pass from one species to another, this work draws an even darker trajectory for the future of the planet by 2070. And irreversible, even by limiting warming to +2°C, worry the authors.

We provide evidence that in the decades to come, the world will not only be warmer, but also sicker“, alarmed Gregory Albery, biologist at Georgetown University in Washington, co-author of the study published Thursday in Nature.

Their research has uncovered a mechanism where ecosystem disruption and disease transmission are intertwined for the first time. A total of 3139 species of mammals were taken into account, this class of animals being the one that harbors a great diversity of viruses capable of being transmitted to humans.

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