The changing climate presents a number of risk factors for future pandemics.
Deforestation, a major contributing factor to climate change, is drawing human and animal populations closer together.
This means animal-borne infectious diseases— like COVID-19, Ebola, Salmonella, malaria, Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever— are closer to human population centers.
As the world gets warmer, more and more tick and mosquito-borne illnesses like Lyme Disease, Zika and Eastern Encephalitis are present in a wider geographic range. And the insects have longer lifespans.
While these conditions enable disease spread, fossil fuel pollution impacts air quality, leading to respiratory diseases and a greater likelihood of COVID-19 complications. The many health effects of high temperature and air pollution exposure include pregnancy risks, which have a disproportionate impact on Black mothers, according to research examining 32 million births.
A recent report found if carbon emissions continue to grow, three-quarters of the world’s population will be exposed to deadly heat waves by 2100.