Experts have described the coronavirus pandemic as the kind of crisis that will become even more likely as the planet warms. But now, researchers think that climate change may have actually played a role in the emergence of the viruses that caused both SARS and COVID-19.
A study published in Science of the Total Environment Friday found that climatic shifts in southern China and nearby areas of Myanmar and Laos increased the bat biodiversity in these regions, and the number of bat-borne coronaviruses by about 100.
“We estimate that, over the past century, climate change caused a significant increase in the number of bat species in the location where SARS-CoV-2 likely originated,” study lead author and University of Cambridge researcher Dr. Robert Beyer told CBS News. “This increase suggests a possible mechanism for how climate change could have played a role in the origin of the pandemic.”
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