The Wednesday Politics Thread Wants To Prevent The Next Pandemic

Hi everyone, hope you’re doing well.

As we somehow, maybe, kinda, start to make our way out of this pandemic, some doctors and researchers are sounding the alarm about how much climate change can exacerbate the spread of current and future diseases.

The facts are clear: Climate change will worsen food insecurity and water scarcity. This, in a world in which more than 800 million people go hungry and more than 1 billion people live in areas where clean water is already in short supply. It will increase the severity of hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and flooding. These disasters will lead to more spikes in forced migration and political conflict, which leave women and children particularly vulnerable. And yes, climate change will continue to increase the burden of disease on communities around the world.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we make the connection between climate change and outcomes such as health, we may yet garner enough political will to avoid the worst consequences of warming.

… Among doctors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists there is a growing determination to make advocacy for our planet an essential treatment plan for a healthy society.

Want to prevent the next pandemic? This doctor is prescribing climate action.

There are three ways climate influences emerging diseases. Roughly 60% of new pathogens come from animals — including those pressured by diversity loss — and roughly one-third of those can be directly attributed to changes in human land use, meaning deforestation, the introduction of farming, development or resource extraction in otherwise natural settings. Vector-borne diseases — those carried by insects like mosquitoes and ticks and transferred in the blood of infected people — are also on the rise as warming weather and erratic precipitation vastly expand the geographic regions vulnerable to contagion. Climate is even bringing old viruses back from the dead, thawing zombie contagions like the anthrax released from a frozen reindeer in 2016, which can come down from the arctic and haunt us from the past.

Thus the COVID-19 pandemic, even as it unfolds in the form of an urgent crisis, is offering a larger lesson. It is demonstrating in real time the enormous and undeniable power that nature has over civilization and even over its politics. That alone may make the pandemic prologue for more far-reaching and disruptive changes to come. But it also makes clear that climate policy today is indivisible from efforts to prevent new infectious outbreaks, or, as Bernstein put it, the notion that climate and health and environmental policy might not be related is “a ​dangerous delusion.”

How climate change is contributing to skyrocketing rates of infectious disease

It would seem that this is just one more pressing reason why we have to do all we can to stop and undo the damage being done to the earth’s environments and climates. Please help spread the word if you can.

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