“Current greenhouse gas emissions are intensifying the Earth’s many climate risks, which exacerbates human pathogenic diseases”. This is how forceful Camilo Mora and his scientific team are shown in a study published on Monday, August 8, in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change.
This research has succeeded in showing that more than half of the known pathogenic diseases are already getting worse because of climate change. According to the researchers, so far, the various extreme weather events have already caused 58% of infectious diseases that affect human beings all over the world get worse.
Therefore, say the authors, sustained climate change over time will only worsen existing health risks.
[Esta es la enfermedad que sufrirán la mitad de los españoles en 2050 por el cambio climático]
And it is that, the authors recall, “the disruption of society that infectious diseases can cause was made clear by covid-19.” The pandemic has done nothing more than demonstrate “the potential consequences of an impending health crisis caused by climate change”.
Already at last year’s climate summit in Glasgow, an alert was launched about the urgency of tackling how the ecological crisis affects human health. The risks that climate change poses to our health are well known – and have been analyzed in multiple studies.
However, until now none had been carried out that put the true scope of the climate emergency as far as illnesses are concerned.
To discover what that impact is, Mora and his team have systematically monitored the existing literature and research. Thus, they have discovered that there are at least 3,213 empirical cases directly linking 286 human pathogenic diseases to 10 climate risks which are aggravated by greenhouse gas emissions.
In this way, the climate risks analyzed are excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, droughts, heat waves, fires, torrential rainfall, floods, storms, sea level rise, acidification of the oceans and changes in natural land cover.
Of the total pathogenic diseases analyzed, they say, 277 worsened due to at least one climatic risk. And only 9 of them suffered improvements due to the climate emergency. In total, 58% of the infectious diseases that have been documented and that affect humanity, have been aggravated by climatic events.
More emissions, more infections
But what does this mean? Some climate hazards bring humans closer to pathogens. For example, the authors explain, torrential storms and floods resulting in forced displacement have been associated with a increase in cases of Lassa fever or to legionellosis.
At other times, the reverse occurs and extreme events bring pathogens closer to humans. This is the case of global warming, which causes increases the area of activity of disease-carrying organismssuch as dengue, malaria or Lyme disease.
According to the authors of the study, their research shows that there are 1,006 specific and unique pathways by which climate risks have already triggered various diseases with different types of transmission.
The text also emphasizes the “limited capacity of society to adapt” to this world in constant transformation. Therefore, say the researchers, “reducing greenhouse gas emissions is crucial”. These would be, in any case, the main source of the problem.
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