Global Warming Makes 12 Diseases Worse

Also causes shortened ice-cream life span

Just once I'd like to read something about how climate change will improve our lives—you know, like "it'll turn Battery Park into a beach," or "every day will feel like summer"—something fun like that. Instead, we'll have to keep weathering (pun intended) the onslaught of negatives. The latest: Global warming makes pretty much every epidemic disease worse.

In this case, the 12 diseases about to have a deck party as soon as it gets warm enough include bird flu, cholera, ebola, a variety pack of parasites, Lyme disease, plague, red tides, Rift Valley fever, yellow Fever, tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, and the fun-sounding-but-not-fun babesiosis. It has nothing to do with getting an overwhelming case of babes. Damn.

The Wildlife Conservation Society cites a number of factors that will make conditions preferable for these diseases worldwide, including optimal heat and moisture conditions in areas that previously kept cases of these diseases at bay. Bird flu has already become common in worldwide poultry farms, killing 240 people and causing over $100 billion in losses.

While some might worry about history-changing epidemics like the Black Plague or the flu of 1918, scientists advise that while some places will get worse, some may get better.

"We will see a shift in the geographic distribution of diseases, with certain areas having reduced prevalence and other areas increasing," says veterinarian William Karesh, WCS's vice president of global health programs.

Great news, Bill. By the way, if anyone else needs me today, I'll be under my desk wearing a trash bag and feverishly scrubbing myself down with Purell.

— Ted Alvarez

Deadly by the Dozen: 12 Diseases Climate Change May Worsen (Scientific American)