We can argue about the cause, but climate is changing. It may be called global warming but the effect most people will see is an increased variability of weather events, with more frequent extreme weather. Little things. Like Hurricane Katrina. WHO is among many warning that it is not only the physical effects that will affect people, but changes in disease patterns as well, with the brunt of climate change linked disease deaths coming from the Asia-Pacific region:
Shigeru Omi, WHO director for the Western Pacific region based in Manila, said “the impact of climate change will be felt more in developing countries,” which have fewer resources to deal with it.
Unlike other health crises, like bird flu, which can be alleviated, “it is inevitable climate change will get worse for some time,” Omi said.
He cited evidence that malaria was now appearing in areas such as the highlands of Papua New Guinea, which were once considered too cold for mosquitoes that spread the disease. (AFP)
I’m not quite so sure that bird flu can “be alleviated” but I agree the forces which are affecting a change in climate have tremendous inertia and can be altered only with difficulty and expense. Moreover any change in climate perturbs a very complicated set of interactions between people, animals, pathogens and the environment with unpredictable but usually bad consequences. Combine this with wars, civil strife, unprecedented mobility, population migrations, deterioration of resources, infrastructure and social services and likely effects of climate change on agriculture and nutrition and we have a disease generating witches brew.
By all means let’s continue to argue about the cause of climate change. Continued debate about climate change is healthy, especially for oil companies. Maybe we’ll even have it settled in time to prepare for all those diseases — like pandemic influenza — that come roaring out of Asia like a freight train.