Earlier in the semester we addressed the effects of climate change on organismal migration and demography, if you think back to Lauren Buckley’s research and presentation. We are all aware (or should be) that increased temperatures mean we are beginning to find organisms in brand new environments. Whether they’ve moved up mountains, up states, or up continents, organisms are on the move.
Some obvious dangers associated with these moves include lack of resources, competition for niches, and loss of biodiversity due to invasive species. Something we weren’t exactly counting on is the transmission of disease.
I recently came across a Discovery magazine with an article titled “The O Zone” emblazoned across the front in dramatic type font, accompanied by an artist’s rendering of the future according to climate change (You can read it here).
To sum up the article, diseases once thought to be isolated or regional are popping up in unexpected places. With increased temperatures come the species of mosquito that carry diseases like dengue hemorrhagic fever, and other vector-borne illnesses like Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The article quotes scientists from The Lancet saying, “Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.”
Even cases like allergies are predicted to increase in number and severity. Heat-waves pose health risks to elderly individuals, especially.
Climate change is becoming increasingly a holistic problem, encompassing and affected every aspect of our society. From food security, to economic well-being, to entrepreneurship, to disease control: climate change is not just going to affect the scientists who study it. It has become our generation’s challenge to come up with inventive solutions to the multitude of problems we face.