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Along comes climate change, along comes disease

Though it may seem as though climate change and disease are not related, at first sight, there are many factors linking them together.

Colin J. Carlson, along with his team of researchers, began a study that explored how climate change and the destruction of wildlife might affect how diseases transfer from animals to humans.

Recently, the world has seen an increase in cases of monkeypox, a virus that was first discovered in the 1950s. While health officials may say that there is no need to worry about a monkeypox pandemic. The world will still have to face monkeypox and other potential diseases as habitats being destroyed brings people and animals closer, according to Carlson’s team.

In the study, Carlson and his team wrote about how, although the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions will prevent extinctions and minimize harmful ecosystem impacts, this does not help. “Our results suggest that mitigation alone cannot reduce the likelihood of climate driven viral sharing. Instead, the mildest scenarios for global warming appear likely to produce at least as much or even more cross-species viral transmission.” Claiming that there may be around or more than 4,000 viruses that will be transmitted.

Although he and his co-authors cautioned that the results shouldn’t be interpreted as an upside to unmitigated climate change, which will be accompanied by devastating disease and global instability. “Rather, our results highlight the urgency of better wildlife disease surveillance systems and public health infrastructure as a form of climate change adaptation, even if mitigation efforts are successful,” they said.

Carlson’s research team found that bats will likely be responsible for the majority of disease transmission in the years to come.

Another example of climate change bringing disease is that global warming is melting permafrost soils that have been solid for thousands of years and may release ancient viruses and bacteria. In a paper released in 2014, a team led by Jean-Michel Claverie of Aix-Marseille University revealed they had found a new “giant virus” that they call “Pithovirus sibercum”.

It is considered a “giant virus” because they are much bigger than traditional viruses, with the Pithovirus being the biggest ever found. It measures 1,500 nanometers across, 10 times larger than the HIV virus. Though this virus would only be harmful to amoebae, there is still a high possibility a giant virus will be released that is harmful to humans.

While these are just a few of the effects of climate change, the point of the lesson is it is crucial to understand climate change to better protect our environment and people.

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