A warming world gives viruses more chances to hitchhike from species to species – Justine Calma

Straw-coloured fruit bats at their daytime roosts in ‘Mushitu’ or ever-green swamp forest in April, 2014, Kasanka National Park, Zambia. | Photo credit should read Nick Garbutt/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Climate change is pushing mammals into new territory, increasing the number of opportunities for viruses to jump from species to species — including humans. By 2070, if global temperatures continue to rise as predicted, there could be a total of 15,000 new cross-species “viral sharing events,” according to new research published today in the journal Nature.

Of the at least 10,000 virus species in mammals capable of infecting humans, most are still only circulating among animals in the wild. The worry is that more of those viruses could eventually make the leap to humans, potentially sparking a health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ultimately, this work provides us with more incontrovertible evidence that the coming decades will not…

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