December 8, 2005
Global Climate Change Will Cause an Increase in Disease Outbreaks
Global climate change is a highly discussed, debated, and analyzed topic. There are many components that make up this debate ranging from why it is occurring to how we are going to slow its effects. A very important area of study within the topic of global climate change is the effects that it will have on the ecosystems of the world.
One of the most recent revelations found, from a study put out by Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment, reinsurance company Swiss Re, and the United Nations Development Program, is that the warmer climates and increased/decreased amounts of precipitation, due to global climate change, will be greatly influencing the number of disease outbreaks among humans. Hari Pant, assistant professor of environmental, geographic, and geological sciences at Lehman College of the City University of New York says that, "[But] overall, the effect on human health will be bad because of the spread of opportunistic organisms that take advantage of unstable environments." The three diseases thought to increase the most are Malaria, West Nile, and Lyme disease.
Malaria is predicted to have an increased outbreak in the areas where the climate will be getting predominately warmer. The warming of these specific areas will cause the breeding season to be longer and the reproduction and biting rates of these insects to increase. The warmer temperatures also cause the parasite that is Malaria to reach full maturity inside the mosquito more quickly then it would in cooler temperatures. An increase in precipitation causes more breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and a decrease in precipitation causes people to migrate and therefore transmit the disease around the country, continent, or world.
West Nile virus is said to be more prevalent with the onset of global climate change because the mosquito that carries this virus thrives in droughts. This means that some areas of the world that usually do not see this disease because of their tendency to be a relatively moist area, could start to see a rise in the number of outbreaks because global climate change could impact these areas, making them more dry. Another negative effect of drought in the areas where these diseases could appear is that drought decreases the amount of predators that these mosquitoes have, creating an imbalance in the local food chain.
Lyme disease will also take advantage of rising temperatures. Lyme disease is prominently carried by deer ticks. These ticks will move north when the temperatures start to get warmer, causing the area in which the disease inhabits to more than double.
This problem can be solved in a number of different ways. One could be to find solid vaccines for all of these diseases and give them to everyone susceptible. This is not a very logical solution, however. It would be very costly and would also have the potential of causing more harm to some then it would cause good. The main solution that I think the world should put to action is simply to work on reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We need to find alternate forms of sustainable energy that will give off less greenhouse gases and therefore slow down global warming so that the consequences of the changes it will cause can be better prepared for and possibly curbed to reduce the impact by a margin.
This information comes from an article in National Geographic Magazine by Nicholas Bakalar called â€śWarming Will Lead to Major Disease Outbreaks, Experts Warnâ€? written on December 2, 2005. This magazine focuses entirely on nature and advocates its preservation. It is good that they are supporting articles that generate awareness about the looming effects of human-caused turmoil in the environment not only in the US but on a world-scale. This magazine doesnâ€™t sugar-coat the reality of situations and I think that is exactly what people need to hear: an intelligent sounding, reality bearing, informative analysis of the problems that the world is facing.
Posted by at December 8, 2005 1:15 PM | 2. In the News