A British meteorologist said that he never thought he would have to announce temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius on his islands. This summer has happened and will continue to happen in unprecedented heat waves due to unstoppable climate change that it is having serious repercussions in the socioeconomic development of the world; migrations and displacements; food security or terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
The world is on the brink of the abyss and the truth is that we are doing very little to stop it. Politicians who (mis)govern the world even less so. A scientific study published in Nature tells us about a new related threat: “Climate change can worsen most human diseases”.
Monkeypox is affecting more and more countries, polio is back, and viruses like COVID-19 are here to stay, adding to the list of infectious diseases. Researchers have long known that climate change affects human disease.
The unstoppable rise in global average temperatures is making some regions hospitable to disease-carrying mosquitoes, while storm surges, also becoming more frequent, can carry bacteria in their water surges. However, most research has only focused on a handful of threats or one disease at a time.
The new study published in Nature Climate Changehas constructed a complete map of all the ways in which climate hazard could interact with 375 human infectious diseases documented. The authors reviewed more than 77,000 scientific articles on these diseases and their relationship to climate change. Of the 375 diseases, 218 could be aggravated by issues such as heat waves, rising sea levels or forest fires.
How Climate Change Worsens Human Diseases
The study found four main ways in which the climate threat exacerbates disease:
1.- The first occurs when disease-carrying animals approach people. For example, when animal habitats are disrupted by wildfires that drive bats and rodents into new areas, making them more likely to spread diseases like Ebola.
2.- The second of the causes says that climate change makes viruses are more likely to spread from animals to people, as happened with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. That phenomenon also likely contributed to the 2016 Zika outbreaks. And vice versa; People also get close to disease-causing animals when adverse weather events occur. One documented example was when diseases such as cholera and Lassa fever were linked to human movement after storms and floods.
3.- Thirdly, climatic dangers also drive pathogens, like how populations of disease-carrying mosquitoes grow in warmer temperatures.
4.- Finally, the research concludes that climatic changes make people less capable of coping with illnesses. For example, large changes in temperature can weaken the human immune systemwhich could be the reason for flu outbreaks.
If you’re interested in taking a closer look at all the diseases that are affected, the study’s authors have created an interactive chart that connects each disease to the climate hazards that amplify it. There you can see how droughts, fires and floods make health problems caused by sandflies, including fevers and parasitic skin conditions, more common.
The study is another notice that warns of the real consequences of climate change. And she would agree to treat him as he deserves. We have very little hope that the same guys who got us this far will be the ones to pull us off the cliff. As if to put the fox (hungry and pressured by billionaire interests) to take care of the sheep.
It can be understood that our economic and life system cannot be abolished with a stroke of the pen, but taking into account the continuous warnings of “on the edge of the abyss” or the “red code” that all scientific reports cite, it would be desirable to agree into concrete actions to address what is considered to be the greatest global human emergency for protect the very existence of our species and the planet that hosts us.