Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Climate Change and Disease


The American public's concern about climate change continues to decrease even as the evidence supporting the urgency and potentially harmful implications of the problem grows. Some studies have argued that this disconnect has as much to do with psychological responses and defense mechanisms as it does with serious reflection.

For instance, the issues are complex, so it is possible to focus on problems which we as individuals can distance ourselves from. Though I may feel it's too bad that some coastlines will shrink, I live a thousand feet above sea-level...

Among my own students, I've noticed a higher degree of worry about the possibility that climate change could spur the movement and introduction of diseases to humans than about other implications of climate change. But this worry is countered by evaluating those as being too indirect and lacking in examples.

A recent report will perhaps fill that gap. The New York Times has reported on a discovered link between climate change and the spread of hantavirus, a disease that can be fatal to humans.

From that article:
The spread of hantavirus among mice in the wake of the aspen die-offs should already be considered an “unintended consequence of climate change,” Dr. Lehmer said. She noted that other studies have shown an increase in human hantavirus infections in Germany during years of above-average warmth.
...
“The bottom line is that climate change is tending to introduce diseases where they haven’t been before, because it’s changing the entire dynamics of plant and animal ecosytems,” she said.

1 comment:

Alvaro said...
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