Research News, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
A new study published today in the journal Science of the Total Environment provides the first evidence of a mechanism by which climate change could have played a direct role in the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study has revealed large-scale changes in the type of vegetation in the southern Chinese Yunnan province, and adjacent regions in Myanmar and Laos, over the last century. Climatic changes including increases in temperature, sunlight, and atmospheric carbon dioxide – which affect the growth of plants and trees – have changed natural habitats from tropical shrubland to tropical savannah and deciduous woodland. This created a suitable environment for many bat species that predominantly live in forests.
The number of coronaviruses in an area is closely linked to the number of different bat species present. The study found that an additional 40 bat species have moved into the southern Chinese Yunnan province in the past century, harbouring around 100 more types of bat-borne coronavirus. This ‘global hotspot’ is the region where genetic data suggests SARS-CoV-2 may have arisen.
“Climate change over the last century has made the habitat in the southern Chinese Yunnan province suitable for more bat species,” said Dr Robert Beyer, a researcher in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology and first author of the study, who has recently taken up a European research fellowship at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany.
He added: “Understanding how the global distribution of bat species has shifted as a result of climate change may be an important step in reconstructing the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak.”
Continue reading “Global greenhouse gas emissions over the last century have made southern China a hotspot for bat-borne coronaviruses, by driving growth of forest habitat favoured by bats”
Chris Mooney, Brady Dennis and John Muyskens, WASHINGTON POST
But scientists say the drivers of global warming could quickly bounce back as social distancing ends and economies rebound.
The wave of shutdowns and shuttered economies caused by the coronavirus pandemic fueled a momentous decline in global greenhouse gas emissions, although one unlikely to last, a group of scientists reported Tuesday.
As covid-19 infections surged in March and April, nations worldwide experienced an abrupt reduction in driving, flying and industrial output, leading to a startling decline of more than 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That includes a peak decline in daily emissions of 17 percent in early April, according to the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. For some nations, the drop was much steeper.
Scientists have long insisted that the world must scale back carbon pollution significantly — and quickly — to mitigate the worst effects of climate change over coming decades, although none have suggested that a deadly global pandemic is the way to do so.
Tuesday’s study projects that total emissions for 2020 will probably fall between 4 and 7 percent compared to last year — an unheard-of drop in normal times, but considerably less dramatic than the decline during the first few months of the year when economies screeched to a halt. The final 2020 figure will depend on how rapidly, or cautiously, people around the world resume ordinary life.
The unprecedented situation produced by the coronavirus has offered a glimpse into the massive scale required to cut global emissions, year after year, to meet the most ambitious goals set by world leaders when they forged the 2015 Paris climate accord. Last fall, a U.N. report estimated that global greenhouse gas emissions must begin falling by 7.6 percent each year beginning in 2020 to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Read more at https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2020/05/19/greenhouse-emissions-coronavirus/?arc404=true
James Rainey and Susanne Rust, LOS ANGELES TIMES
Six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area will be placed under a shelter-in-place directive by public health officials in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, San Mateo Mayor Joe Goethals said Monday. It’s a move that will close virtually all businesses and direct residents to remain at home.
Goethals said he believed that the order, to be issued Monday afternoon, will put the six counties on perhaps the most restrictive public health footing anywhere in America, since the outbreak of the potentially deadly coronavirus.
Only police and fire departments, hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies and a few other businesses will be allowed to remain open under the shelter-in-place order, said Goethals, who holds a master’s degree in public health.
Residents will be able to go grocery stores and other essential services, but the mayor urged residents not to rush, adding that stores will remain fully stocked.
The order will come from public health officials in the nine counties around the Bay — San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda. It will last for at least two weeks and could be extended for a third week, Goethals said.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10827908-181/six-bay-area-counties-will