Scientists expect 15,000 transmissions of viruses between different species by 2070, mostly driven by bats moving to new areas in a hotter world.
An ever warmer climate will drive many animal species into new locations, taking their parasites and pathogens with them, and “increasing the risk of emerging infectious diseases jumping from animals to humans in the next 50 years,” scientists forecast.
As they move, some species will start to come into contact with each other for the first time. But the danger will be greatest in densely populated areas, especially tropical Africa and southeast Asia.
Peer-reviewed journal Nature, which published the study, believes it to be among the first to assess how global changes could create “future hotspots” for virus sharing and emerging diseases.
The researchers, led by Colin Carlson from Georgetown University, modelled the way mammals might move as the world warms by 2 degrees Celsius by 2070, as their current habitats become too hot.