But despite bird flu, swine flue, mad cow disease, ebola, and more, these pleas were largely ignored by policymakers and the general public — until a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 jumped from animals to humans. And now here we are, at the one-year anniversary point of a global pandemic that has upended life as we knew it.
The trigger species has long been presumed to be bats — but exactly how the virus made the leap, and why, has been the subject of debate. Climate scientists would tell you it was our own fault, pushing into bats’ wild habitats and bringing ourselves in to too close contact with the animals which carry these viruses.
Turns out, they are — at least in part — absolutely right. New research published Friday in the journal Science of the Total Environment provides concrete evidence for the theory SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, originated in bats.
Perhaps more importantly, the study explicitly links climate change to the uptick in bat species carrying coronavirus in China’s Yunnan province, as well as in neighboring countries like Laos and Myanmar.
Robert Beyer is a researcher in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology and first author of the study. He tells Inverse Covid-19 may be just the first stop on a dangerous trajectory.
“There is strong evidence that climate change will further shift the geographic ranges of many of the world’s species, which can put them, and the viruses they carry, into contact with new species that can result in novel viral transmissions,” Beyer says.
How they did it — Using pre-existing data, the researchers first established the geographical ranges of individual bat species in both the early 20th century and the present day.
Ultimately, they created a global map showing vegetation coverage and then compared these data to the amount of vegetation coverage each individual bat species require. They also considered how other environmental factors may have changed over time, too, like average monthly temperature, rainfall, and cloud cover between 1901 and 2019.
“In this way, we estimated the global distribution of natural vegetation based on the climatic conditions in the early 20th century and at present,” the authors write in the study.
This method enabled the scientists to figure out the global distribution of bat species through 1901 and 2019.
What’s new — The researchers found many regions of the world — including parts of Central Africa, Central and South America — have experienced significant increases in bat species as a result of climate change.
(this is one hell of an peculiar site as some of the topics there are very interesting…)
For instance… See this other article there: