We don’t have direct evidence that climate change influences the spread of COVID-19, but we know that climate change alters how we relate to other species on Earth and matters to our health and our risk for infections.
As the planet heats up, animals big and small, on land and in the sea, are headed to the poles to get out of the heat. That means animals are coming into contact with other animals they normally wouldn’t, and that creates an opportunity for pathogens to get into new hosts.
Many of the root causes of climate change also increase the risk of pandemics. Deforestation, which occurs mostly for agricultural purposes, is the largest cause of habitat loss worldwide. Loss of habitat forces animals to migrate and potentially contact other animals or people and share germs. Large livestock farms can also serve as a source for spillover of infections from animals to people. Less demand for animal meat and more sustainable animal husbandry could decrease emerging infectious disease risk and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
We have many reasons to take climate action to improve our health and reducing risks for infectious disease emergence is one of them. The session was headed by Advocate Vetri Selvan who is one of the founding members of an environmental organization called Poovulagin Nanbargal.
The session focused on the following questions:
- How likely are we to see infectious diseases spread as a result of climate change?
- Why are emerging infectious diseases on the rise?
- What actions can we take to prevent future outbreaks?
- The communities most at-risk, and how and why both COVID-19 and climate change harm them?
- Why is it so important for health officials to talk about climate change now?
Watch the recorded Session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMUyYQR_CvE