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In ‘The Last of Us,’ a warning for future pandemics

© Flavio Forner

The HBO thriller “The Last of Us” imagines a postapocalyptic world in which a fungus enabled by climate change takes over the world. The show’s premise is rooted in the real-world species of Ophiocordyceps known to hijack the body and behavior of ants. In the fictionalized drama, the mutated fungus infects humans and turns them into zombielike beings.

In a recent New York Times op-ed, Conservation International pandemic prevention fellow Neil Vora explains how climate change is raising the risk of new health threats, including fungal pandemics, and argues that governments need to step up their preparations.

Vora writes in The New York Times:

“It’s far more likely that the next pandemic will come from a virus. But the idea that climate change is making the emergence of new health threats more likely is solid. Could it cause a fungus ubiquitous in the environment to morph into a lethal pathogen in humans? It’s possible. Scientists like me worry that climate change and ecosystem destruction may be creating opportunities for fungal pathogens to grow more infectious, spread over larger distances and reach more people.”

Read the full op-ed here

Mary Kate McCoy is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates. Also, please consider supporting our critical work.