That’s that's likely to increase the risk of emerging infectious diseases jumping from animals to humans, according to a new study.
This is especially true for Africa and Asia, continents that have been hotspots for deadly disease spread from humans to animals or vice versa over the last several decades, including the flu, HIV, Ebola and novel coronavirus.
Researchers, who published their findings Thursday in the journal Nature, used a model to examine how more than 3,000 mammal species might migrate and share viruses over the next 50 years if the world warms by two degrees, which recent research shows is possible.
They found that cross-species virus spread will happen over 4,000 times among mammals alone. Bats account for the majority of novel viral sharing. Birds and marine animals weren't included in the study.
Researchers said not all viruses will spread to humans or become pandemics on the scale of the novel coronavirus, but the number of cross-species viruses increases the risk of spread to humans.
The study highlights two global crises — climate change and infectious disease spread.
"We don't talk about climate a lot in the context of zoonoses" — diseases that can spread from animals to people, said study co-author Colin Carlson, an assistant professor of biology at Georgetown University. "Our study ... brings together the two most pressing global crises we have."
Study co-author Gregory Albery, a disease ecologist at Georgetown University, said that because climate-driven infectious disease emergence is likely already happening, the world should be doing more to learn about and prepare for it.
"It is not preventable, even in the best-case climate change scenarios," Albery said.