Climate Change Drives Disease to New Territory

Politicians tend to procrastinate when it comes to long-term problems. But rising temperatures are causing immediate problems, as diseases like malaria, cholera, Dengue fever, Lyme disease and West Nile virus make inroads into new territory, including the US, Europe and Canada. Common insects like ticks and mosquitoes live through mild winters and find new habitats, thus transforming from annoyances to threats. Scientists have long reported that climate change could promote disease in new regions, but the warnings were cautious. Some experts now acknowledge that the scientific community underestimated warming, with problems anticipated for 2080 happening in 2006. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified more than 30 new or resurgent diseases since 1970, according to Author Doug Struck, “the sort of explosion some experts say has not happened since the Industrial Revolution brought masses of people together in cities.” WHO figures report that climate change is now responsible for more than 150,000 deaths per year from a variety of factors such as heat waves and respiratory illness. The spread of disease offers yet another compelling reason for governments to make preventing climate change a priority. – YaleGlobal

Climate Change Drives Disease to New Territory

Doug Struck
Friday, May 5, 2006

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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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