There are a multitude of theories out there about the origin of the coronavirus and now varieties of covid-19 that have cause so many deaths, lingering illnesses, economic disturbances and social upset. Researchers and scientists have been able to develop several vaccines and medicines and procedures that will, eventually, bring this pandemic under control. There are lingering questions of how this virus began and, further, did climate change have anything to do with it? The true answer is, we do not know for certain yet. One thing is certain, viruses and diseases will continue to change as the changing and overall warming climate pushes species into new habitats. Even as we slowly dig our way out of this pandemic, we must have in place entities to get prepared for the next pandemic. Such entities must consider climate change in its predictions.
A recent study by Cambridge University, led by Dr. Robert Beyer, professor of Zoology and others found that there was a great probability that the coronavirus that led to Covid-19 came from a huge increase in bat species (tracking these species in the southern part of China and surrounding regions over the past century as well as the change in climate and habitat). Over 40 new species of bats flourished in the area as it changed from Tropical shrubs to Tropical Savannah to deciduous Woodland. Bats are responsible for 3,000 different coronaviruses and each bat carries an average of 2.7 coronaviruses. Also living in this bat invested area are animals such as the pangolin (an ant-eater looking scaly animal that is routinely hunted and killed for ‘bush meat’) that could have contracted the virus and, when eaten, passed the virus on to humans. Other studies by the World Health Organization target other animals such as bamboo rats and wild rabbits as possible links to human infection. In fact, the WHO researchers recently stated that the possibility of the coronavirus coming from a lab studying the bat viruses in Wuhan is remote at best. China has been touting the theory that frozen meat and seafood was the source. This theory was downplayed by WHO scientists—viruses were located on and in the frozen food in tiny numbers and could have come from human interaction in these huge industrialized frozen food markets.
The moral of the tale is that science will solve the mystery of the origins of the deadly coronavirus causing the pandemic, eventually. It is certain however, that the warming of the planet because of climate change does effect the movements of species and the changing habitats that make viruses more available to cross over to humans.
EARTH STEWARD ACTION: Help educate those around you to lean into scientific theories more than non-science based theories. The first leads to better adherence to safe measures such as mask wearing and social distancing—all of which we must continue until we eventually reach herd immunity.