Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Apparently Smallpox, Polio, Malaria, Typhoid, Scarlet Fever and the Black Death were the feeble products of the pre-pandemic world, before global warming made things worse.
How Climate Change Is Ushering in a New Pandemic Era
A warming world is expanding the range of deadly diseases and risking an explosion of new zoonotic pathogens from the likes of bats, mosquitoes, and ticks
By JEFF GOODELL
DECEMBER 7, 2020 7:00AM ET
Jennifer Jones spent most of her summer at home, as so many of us did, trying to avoid the plague. Jones, 45, lives in Tavernier, a community in the Florida Keys just south of Key Largo, and passed a lot of time in her yard, puttering around with plants. At some point, a mosquito landed on her. That’s not unusual in Florida, and Jones doesn’t remember this mosquito bite in particular. But it was not a garden-variety backyard mosquito. It was Aedes aegypti, an exquisitely designed killing machine that is one of the most deadly animals in human history. By one count, half the people who have ever lived have been killed by mosquito-borne pathogens. Aedes aegypti, which first arrived in North America on slave ships in the 17th century, is capable of carrying a whole arsenal of dangerous diseases, from yellow fever to Zika.
The Covid-19 pandemic is often compared to the 1918 influenza, which killed at least 50 million people globally. But it is perhaps more accurately seen as a preview of what’s to come. “We have entered a pandemic era,” wrote Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in a recent paper he co-authored with his NIAID colleague David Morens. The paper cites HIV/AIDS, which has so far killed at least 37 million, as well as “unprecedented pandemic explosions” of the past decade. It’s a deadly list, starting with the H1N1 “swine” influenza in 2009, chikungunya in 2014, and Zika in 2015. Ebola fever has burned in large parts of Africa for the past six years. In addition, there are seven different known coronaviruses that can infect humans. SARS-CoV spilled over from an animal host, likely a civet cat, in 2002–03, and caused a near-pandemic before disappearing. Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus jumped from camels to people in 2012, but never found a way to spread efficiently among humans, and died out quickly. Now we have SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The reasons for this new era of pandemics are complex, but as Fauci and Morens point out, one of the main drivers is the climate crisis, which is shaking up the natural world and rewriting disease algorithms on the planet. Thawing permafrost in the Arctic is releasing pathogens that haven’t seen daylight for tens of thousands of years. The Vibrio bacteria that causes cholera, a diarrheal disease that haunted big cities like London and New York in the 19th century and still kills tens of thousands each year, thrives in warmer water. An even more deadly strain of the same bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, while rare, has been detected more and more frequently in bays and estuaries on the East Coast, particularly around Chesapeake Bay. Vibrio vulnificus, if you happen to eat shellfish, might give you a bad stomachache (in rare cases, it can be fatal). If the bacteria gets in a cut or wound, however, it becomes a flesh-eating horror and kills one in five people who come in contact with it.
I really wish greens would stop pushing the falsehood that mosquitoes and mosquito borne diseases need a warm climate to thrive.
During the depths of the Little Ice Age, Malaria was an endemic killer in Northern Europe. It didn’t matter that far Northern Little Ice Age Summers were short, and that the climate was freezing cold most of the year. All the Malaria mosquitoes needed was a few weeks of adequately warm weather in Summer, to breed and infest the far North with deadly pathogens.
Mosquitoes are still a problem in the far North. Anyone who thinks mosquitoes are in short supply in the Arctic because of the cold climate should try visiting in late Spring / early Summer. Some of the prolific clouds of mosquitoes which thrive in cold climates are capable of carrying Malaria and other dangerous pathogens.
As for the impact of Global Warming on Covid-19, there is strong evidence Covid-19 prefers cold, dry winter weather. According to the University of Sydney, high humidity drags Covid-19 virions out of the air, dramatically reducing the risk of transmission.
… Professor Ward said there are biological reasons why humidity matters in transmission of airborne viruses.
“When the humidity is lower, the air is drier and it makes the aerosols smaller,” he said. “When you sneeze and cough those smaller infectious aerosols can stay suspended in the air for longer. That increases the exposure for other people. When the air is humid and the aerosols are larger and heavier, they fall and hit surfaces quicker.” …
If we want to get rid of Covid-19, and reduce our risk of exposure to all airborne respiratory virus infections, including viruses yet to be discovered. we need more hot, humid weather.
Bring on the global warming.
via Watts Up With That?
December 8, 2020 at 04:48AM