Perilous Pathogens: How Climate Change Is Increasing the Threat of Diseases

Climate change is creating many pathways for zoonotic diseases to reach people. Four cases show how the climate crisis is altering disease threats and how the world can respond.

Article by Claire Klobucista and Lindsay Maizland November 4, 2022 4:12 pm (EST)

THAILAND: Infectious-disease researchers catch bats to study. Adam Dean/New York Times/Redux

The world is already witnessing the consequences of human-caused climate change, including hotter temperatures, rising sea levels, and more frequent and severe storms. What’s harder to see are climate change’s effects on the spread of disease: on the mosquito that carries a virus, or the pathogenic bacteria on a piece of fruit.

Tiếp tục đọc “Perilous Pathogens: How Climate Change Is Increasing the Threat of Diseases”

For 110 years, climate change has been in the news. Are we finally ready to listen?

On August 14 1912, a small New Zealand newspaper published a short article announcing global coal usage was affecting our planet’s temperature.

This piece from 110 years ago is now famous, shared across the internet this time every year as one of the first pieces of climate science in the media (even though it was actually a reprint of a piece published in a New South Wales mining journal a month earlier).

So how did it come about? And why has it taken so long for the warnings in the article to be heard – and acted on?

Short newspaper article with the headline
This short 1912 article made the direct link between burning coal and global temperature changes. The Braidwood Dispatch and Mining Journal, National Library of Australia

The fundamental science has been understood for a long time

American scientist and women’s rights campaigner Eunice Foote is now widely credited as being the first person to demonstrate the greenhouse effect back in 1856, several years before United Kingdom researcher John Tyndall published similar results.

Her rudimentary experiments showed carbon dioxide and water vapour can absorb heat, which, scaled up, can affect the temperature of the earth. We’ve therefore known about the relationship between greenhouse gases and Earth’s temperature for at least 150 years.

Tiếp tục đọc “For 110 years, climate change has been in the news. Are we finally ready to listen?”

Arctic is warming nearly four times faster than the rest of the world

The Earth is approximately 1.1℃ warmer than it was at the start of the industrial revolution. That warming has not been uniform, with some regions warming at a far greater pace. One such region is the Arctic.

new study shows that the Arctic has warmed nearly four times faster than the rest of the world over the past 43 years. This means the Arctic is on average around 3℃ warmer than it was in 1980.

This is alarming, because the Arctic contains sensitive and delicately balanced climate components that, if pushed too hard, will respond with global consequences.

Why is the Arctic warming so much faster?

A large part of the explanation relates to sea ice. This is a thin layer (typically one metre to five metres thick) of sea water that freezes in winter and partially melts in the summer.

The sea ice is covered in a bright layer of snow which reflects around 85% of incoming solar radiation back out to space. The opposite occurs in the open ocean. As the darkest natural surface on the planet, the ocean absorbs 90% of solar radiation.

When covered with sea ice, the Arctic Ocean acts like a large reflective blanket, reducing the absorption of solar radiation. As the sea ice melts, absorption rates increase, resulting in a positive feedback loop where the rapid pace of ocean warming further amplifies sea ice melt, contributing to even faster ocean warming.

Tiếp tục đọc Arctic is warming nearly four times faster than the rest of the world

58% of human infectious diseases can be worsened by climate change – we scoured 77,000 studies to map the pathways

Published: August 8, 2022 4.00pm BST

Climate change can exacerbate a full 58% of the infectious diseases that humans come in contact with worldwide, from common waterborne viruses to deadly diseases like plague, our new research shows

Our team of environment and health scientists reviewed decades of scientific papers on all known pathogenic disease pathogens to create a map of the human risks aggravated by climate-related hazards.

The numbers were jarring. Of 375 human diseases, we found that 218 of them, well over half, can be affected by climate change.

Flooding, for example, can spread hepatitis. Rising temperatures can expand the life of mosquitoes carrying malaria. Droughts can bring rodents infected with hantavirus into communities as they search for food.

With climate change influencing more than 1,000 transmission pathways like those and climate hazards increasingly globally, we concluded that expecting societies to successfully adapt to all of them isn’t a realistic option. The world will need to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change to reduce these risks.

Top Takeaways from the UN World Leaders Summit at COP26

Dawn over Glasgow COP26

CommentaryTopic Climate

The first two days of the UN Climate Conference (COP26) featured over 100 high-level announcements and speeches during the “World Leaders Summit,” helping set the tone for the two-week long conference. The gathering of world leaders was immediately preceded by the G20 Summit held in Rome.

While several important announcements were made that will help to move the needle on global climate action, negotiators will still have their work cut out for them as they try to pave the way for more progress in the coming days.

Here’s a look at the developments so far.

Limited Progress at G20 Summit in Rome

In a final communique, G20 nations recognized the importance of strengthening national climate action this decade, and committed to revisit and further enhance their 2030 emission reduction targets where necessary. This should pave the way for negotiators at COP26 to agree that major emitters will further strengthen their 2030 targets within the next couple of years to keep the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) temperature goal within reach.  

Tiếp tục đọc “Top Takeaways from the UN World Leaders Summit at COP26”

Summers could last for half the year by 2100

Heatwaves and wildfires will be more likely and winter will be squeezed to just 31 days

A man walks in the dried-out lake of Jato near the Sicilian village of Partinico.
A man walks in the dried-out lake of Jato near the Sicilian village of Partinico. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters
@katerav Sat 20 Mar 2021 06.00 GMT127

Our summers are already about 20% longer than they used to be, and if the climate crisis continues unabated then northern hemisphere summers could cover nearly half of the year by 2100, making them more than twice as long as they were in the 1950s. And unlike their counterparts of the 1950s, future summers will be more extreme, with heatwaves and wildfires more likely.

Researchers used historical climate data to measure how much the seasons have changed already. They defined summer as the onset of temperatures in the hottest 25% for that time period and winter as the onset of the coldest 25% of temperatures. Their results, published in Geophysical Research Letters, show that the average northern hemisphere summer has grown from 78 to 95 days between 1952 and 2011, while winter has shrunk from 76 to 73 days. Spring and autumn have contracted too.

Tiếp tục đọc “Summers could last for half the year by 2100”

2020 tied for warmest year on record, NASA analysis shows

Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record, according to an analysis by NASA.

Continuing the planet’s long-term warming trend, the year’s globally averaged temperature was 1.84 degrees Fahrenheit (1.02 degrees Celsius) warmer than the baseline 1951-1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. 2020 edged out 2016 by a very small amount, within the margin of error of the analysis, making the years effectively tied for the warmest year on record.
Tiếp tục đọc “2020 tied for warmest year on record, NASA analysis shows”

Earth is heating at a rate equivalent to five atomic bombs per second. Or two Hurricane Sandys.

By Dana Nuccitelli, February 3, 2020

Trinity.jpgLong-exposure photo of the first atomic bomb test, code-named Trinity, and taken at 5:29:45 a.m. on July 16, 1945.

The heat absorbed in Earth’s oceans reached a new record in 2019, found a recent study published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. Despite the fact that this has been the case for almost every year over the past decade, this information dominated the news cycle, with some particularly viral headlines noting that the amount of energy accumulating in the oceans is equivalent to detonating five Hiroshima atomic bombs per second, every second over the past 25 years.
Tiếp tục đọc “Earth is heating at a rate equivalent to five atomic bombs per second. Or two Hurricane Sandys.”

On a hotter planet, we are all Australians

By David Spratt, January 16, 2020

burnt-out car and scorched landAftermath of January 2020 wildfires in Rosedale, Victoria, about 184 kilometers east of Melbourne, Australia. Image courtesy Alan Meredith

“We are unleashing hell on Australia.”

Those were the words that David Karoly of the University of Melbourne used to portray the wildfires ravaging the lands down-under more than a decade ago. Yes, you read that right: this professor of climate change and climate variability had described an Australia of increased heat, drought, and catastrophic fire way back in 2009—not long after a round of wildfires had previously ravaged the landscape.

It turns out that while Australia’s 2019-20 summer wildfires may well be harbingers of death on a hotter planet for at least the rest of this century, they did not come without advance warning. The question now is: What are we going to do about it?

But first, let’s go back to those warnings, and how we got to this position.

Karoly’s research had, in part, focused on what is known here as Black Saturday—February 7, 2009—when devastating fires killed 173 people. (And another 374 extreme-heat-related deaths were attributed to the record-breaking heatwave across southern Australia that had set the stage for the flames.) Firefighters faced unprecedented conditions: high winds, very low humidity, a land dried by 10 years of drought, and a fire index reaching 170 on a 0-to-100 scale. The temperature hit a record 115.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the city of Melbourne and 119.8 degrees Fahrenheit in Victoria as a whole—the Australian state in which Melbourne sits. The amount of energy released by the fires was estimated to be the equivalent of around 1,500 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
Tiếp tục đọc “On a hotter planet, we are all Australians”

July Was the Hottest Month in Recorded History 

After a record-breaking heat wave in Europe and the Arctic, last month edged out July 2016

July Was the Hottest Month in Recorded History
People play and refresh themselves in a fountain at the Museumplein square in Amsterdam during the heat wave on July 25, 2019. Credit: Robin Utrecht Getty Images

In what may be the week’s most unsurprising news, scientists have officially announced that this past July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.

According to data released yesterday by the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a program of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, last month edged out July 2016, the previous record-holder, for the title.

Last month was 0.04 degree Celsius, or about 0.07 degree Fahrenheit, warmer than July 2016. And it was more than 1 F warmer than the average July between 1981 and 2010.
Tiếp tục đọc “July Was the Hottest Month in Recorded History”

The last five years have been Earth’s warmest since records began in 1880

February 7, 2019A depiction of how temperatures have risen over North America from 2014 to 2018

Last three years were hottest on record, says UN weather agency

© Loic Venance, AFP | Dry river bed of the Loire in Montjean-sur-Loire, western France, on September 7, 2017.


Latest update : 2018-01-18

Last year was the second or third warmest on record behind 2016, and the hottest without an extra dose of heat caused by an El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean, the United Nations said on Thursday.Average surface temperatures in 2017 were 1.1 degree Celsius (2.0 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, creeping towards a 1.5C (2.7F) ceiling set as the most ambitious limit for global warming by almost 200 nations under the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Tiếp tục đọc “Last three years were hottest on record, says UN weather agency”

Ice Loss and the Polar Vortex: How a Warming Arctic Fuels Cold Snaps

insideclimatenews_The loss of sea ice may be weakening the polar vortex, allowing cold blasts to dip south from the Arctic, across North America, Europe and Russia, a new study says.
A strong versus weakened polar vortex. Credit: NOAA

A strong polar vortex (left, from December 2013) is centered over the Arctic. A weakened polar vortex (right, from January 2014) allows cold air to dip farther south. Credit: NOAA

When winter sets in, “polar vortex” becomes one of the most dreaded phrases in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s enough to send shivers even before the first blast of bitter cold arrives.

New research shows that some northern regions have been getting hit with these extreme cold spells more frequently over the past four decades, even as the planet as a whole has warmed. While it may seem counterintuitive, the scientists believe these bitter cold snaps are connected to the warming of the Arctic and the effects that that warming is having on the winds of the stratospheric polar vortex, high above the Earth’s surface.

Here’s what scientists involved in the research think is happening: The evidence is clear that the Arctic has been warming faster than the rest of the planet. That warming is reducing the amount of Arctic sea ice, allowing more heat to escape from the ocean. The scientists think that the ocean energy that is being released is causing a weakening of the polar vortex winds over the Arctic, which normally keep cold air centered over the polar region. That weakening is then allowing cold polar air to slip southward more often.

Tiếp tục đọc “Ice Loss and the Polar Vortex: How a Warming Arctic Fuels Cold Snaps”

The Climate – Justice – Cooperation Nexus: 10 Cornerstones of the Great Transformation towards Sustainability


The challenge of our generation: Avert dangerous global warming – invest in social cohesion and wellbeing of people – build local, national, and transnational alliances for transformative change towards sustainability

1. We can reach the goals of the Paris Agreement – but ambitious action is needed now! Climate change is a threat to humanity. Irreversible Earth systems changes need to be avoided. This is a civilisational challenge which requires unprecedented joint action around the globe. We are under huge time pressure. Global CO2 emissions must decline to zero by mid-century in order to achieve the ambitious Paris goal, aimed at stabilising the global mean temperature well below 2 degrees C, and if possible at 1.5 degrees C. This translates into a stylised “carbon law”, whereby emissions must be halved every decade in analogy to the Moore’s law of semiconductors. We have the resources and the technology to achieve this, but do we have the political will and the resolve? Recent developments, such as the declaration by the US President to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, can be interpreted as a major setback. At the same time, they may inspire counter-movements, strengthening the determination to vigorously combat climate change. In particular, OECD countries and emerging economies should make commitments within the G 20 and within their national policies to ensure the achievement of global decarbonisation by the middle of the century. Tiếp tục đọc “The Climate – Justice – Cooperation Nexus: 10 Cornerstones of the Great Transformation towards Sustainability”