Climate Change Shoots Up the Risk of Disease; Study

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Climate change is accelerating the spread of several infectious diseases worldwide, and not just among animals, but also among plants, a new study claims.

Australia, in particular, has been warned about the rise in threat of deaths occurring due to dengue fever and heat stroke in the wake of this study.

Fluctuating temperatures, frequent storms and other climate changes are affecting the flora and fauna in more ways than one. A number of animals, including the muskox, are facing extinction as a result of extreme climate change. Plant quality, too, is decreasing, and there is a greater risk of the spread of infectious diseases such as the West Nile virus, Lyme disease and more.

Yet another study has emphasized how climate change could be affecting humans, making them more violent and prone to aggressive behavior.

While Australia is a nation wealthy enough to suppress the effects of climate change, a lot of challenges are yet to be overcome, the researchers claim.

“Moving forward, we need models that are sensitive to both direct and indirect effects of climate change on infectious disease,” Richard Ostfeld, co-author of the study, explained. “We need to transcend simple arguments about which is more important – climate change or socioeconomics – and ask just how much harder will it be to control diseases as the climate warms? Will it be possible at all in developing countries?”

The fact that developed countries can manage the effects of climate change better than developing countries, for obvious reasons, should not be a hurdle unchallenged. Effective steps must be taken to help the poorer nations of the world fight the spread of infectious diseases, and the numerous effects of climate change.

Global efforts are needed to handle the ill-effects of rapid climate change, to help conserve the diversity of the environment, and prevent the extinction of species that are endangered.

Another groundbreaking report, published by Australia’s Climate Commission in the year 2011, has linked climate change to an extra 205,000 cases of gastroenteritis each year.

“I think there’s an under-appreciation that climate change is a human issue. People seem to think of it as just an environmental issue that doesn’t impact them,” Lesley Hughes, co-author of the report, said, emphasizing on the need of an increased awareness of the ill-effects of climate change on not just human health, but plant and animal life too.

“Incidents of dengue fever are already changing, as are incidents of things like salmonella. Human adaptations are a big driver as well as climate – people put in water tanks to deal with drought but these are ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes,” she added. “This year we’ve had the hottest ever summer, hottest ever month and hottest ever day on record. We take notice when people die in bushfires, but there’s not much awareness of the numbers of people who die from heatwaves, especially the elderly, isolated people and those from poor socio-economic backgrounds who can’t afford air conditioning.”

A collaborated effort across the nations of the world, may help bring about a greater, more rapid solution, and may lessen the severity of the ill-effects climate change brings.

Enozia Vakil

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