Malaria, E. coli, cholera — humans are vulnerable to a wide range of infectious diseases.
A recent study looked at 375 diseases known to have impacted people, and it found that more than half can be aggravated by hazards affected by global warming.
“Over 58% of the diseases can be affected by climatic changes,” says Camilo Mora of the University of Hawai’i.
His team reviewed tens of thousands of scientific papers to identify cases in which heat waves, floods, droughts, and other climate hazards have made diseases worse.
For example, warmer temperatures and heavy rain can allow some pathogens — like West Nile virus and Vibrio — to thrive and reproduce more rapidly.
Changing climate conditions can enable mosquitoes, bats, and other animals — and the pathogens they carry — to move into places closer to humans.
And droughts and extreme weather can contribute to malnutrition, which reduces people’s ability to fend off disease.
The study shows that climate change has grave, far-reaching implications for human health.
“This is something that can become at some point overwhelming for us as a species to deal with,” Mora says.
So he says to limit future harms to people, reducing carbon pollution is urgent.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media