Daily Archives: August 24, 2016

Climate change is thawing deadly diseases. Maybe now we’ll address it?

‘In addition to releasing ancient microbes, melting layers of permafrost also release methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, that in turn causes further warming.’ Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian
Mona Sarfaty

An anthrax outbreak in Russia came from a 75-year-old caribou carcass thawing out. It’s a warning sign of worse to come

Mona Sarfaty is the director of Program for Climate and Health, Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason

Wednesday 24 August 2016 09.22 EDT

Earlier this month, an outbreak of anthrax in northern Russia caused the death of a 12-year-old boy and his grandmother and put 90 people in the hospital. These deadly spores – which had not been seen in the Arctic since 1941 – also spread to 2,300 caribou. Russian troops trained in biological warfare were dispatched to the Yamalo-Nenets region to evacuate hundreds of the indigenous, nomadic people and quarantine the disease.

Americans are likely to associate anthrax with the mysterious white powder that was mailed to news media and US Senate offices in the weeks following 11 September 2001. The bacteria – usually sequestered in biological weapons labs – killed five people and infected 17 others in the most devastating bioterrorism attack in US history.

But in Russia, the spread of illness was not the result of bioterrorism; it was a result of global warming. Record-high temperatures melted Arctic permafrost and released deadly anthrax spores from a thawing carcass of a caribou that had been infected 75 years ago and had stayed frozen in limbo until now. This all suggests that it may not be easy to predict which populations will be most vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change.

In 2013, the National Academy of Sciences hosted a forum on the influence of global environmental change on infectious diseases. In his keynote speech, Dr Jonathan Patz stood in front of a large slide of a mosquito and warned: “Global warming’s greatest threat may also be the smallest.” The forum focused on many causes of disease, from fungi, bacteria, viruses and mold spores, to vectors like bats and mosquitoes. Climate change can exacerbate the spread of infectious disease by changing the behavior, lifespans and regions of diseases and their carriers.

This can sometimes be hard to prove directly. It can be challenging, for example, to isolate the avenues by which climate change drives emerging infections in warm climates where travel, trade, land use and dense urban living can all lead to the spread of disease. At other times, the signal is bright. Looking way up north in the Arctic – where there are far fewer people, less travel and trade, and fewer infectious diseases – the signal that climate change is a source of disease outbreaks is clear.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Ellen Douglas to Speak About Sea Level Rise Impacts on Boston at “The Shape of the City” Jan. 27 – University of Massachusetts Boston

Robyn Hannigan | January 24, 2015
Associate Professor of Hydrology Ellen Douglas and her colleagues will join Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Tuesday, January 27 to discuss the current consensus regarding future sea level rise and what we need to do to be prepared.

She will present what she and her group have learned about the impacts of sea level rise on our transportation infrastructure and what the future may look like for Boston at the Boston Foundation’s “The Shape of the City” event and the release of the 2015 Boston Indicators Project Report. The event runs from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at The Boston Foundation, located at 75 Arlington Street in Boston, on the 10th floor.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Why is Emma Thompson in the Arctic?


TheRealNews

Published on Aug 24, 2016

Professor Chris Williams and actress Emma Thompson discuss the threats of seismic testing and drilling for oil in the Arctic – from aboard a Greenpeace ship off of Clyde River, Nunavut

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Day After Obama Tours Louisiana Flood Damage, Gov’t Holds Massive Gulf Oil & Gas Lease Auction


Democracy Now!

Published on Aug 24, 2016

http://democracynow.org – On Tuesday, President Obama visited Louisiana for the first time since the devastating floods that killed 13 people and damaged 60,000 homes. The Red Cross has called it the worst natural disaster in the United States since Hurricane Sandy. While many climate scientists have tied the historic floods in Louisiana to climate change, President Obama made no link during his remarks. However, on Tuesday, four environmental activists were arrested in New Orleans protesting the Interior Department’s decision to go ahead with a lease sale of up to 24 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration and development. The sale is being held today in the Superdome—the very building where thousands of displaced residents of New Orleans sought refuge during Hurricane Katrina 11 years ago. We speak to Antonia Juhasz, an oil and energy analyst, author of “Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill.” She joins us from San Francisco.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Climate Study: By 2085 All U.S. Cities Except San Francisco Will Be Too Hot to Host Summer Olympics


Democracy Now!

Published on Aug 24, 2016

http://democracynow.org – A new article in the medical journal The Lancet has concluded much of the Northern Hemisphere will be too hot by 2085 to host the Summer Olympics. Researchers are projecting only eight cities in the hemisphere outside of Western Europe would be cool enough to host the Games. This includes just three cities in North America: Calgary, Vancouver and San Francisco. The list of cities where it could be too hot is staggering: Istanbul, Madrid, Rome, Paris, Budapest, Tokyo, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles—and the list goes on. Extreme high temperatures have already impacted the athletic world. In 2007, high heat forced the cancellation of the Chicago Marathon. At this year’s U.S. Olympic marathon trials in Los Angeles, 30 percent of the runners dropped out of the race due to the heat. For more, we speak with Kirk Smith, lead author of the article and professor of global environmental health at the University of California, Berkeley

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Inaction on Climate Change Could Cost Millennials $8.8 Trillion in Lifetime Income


Democracy Now!

Published on Aug 24, 2016

http://democracynow.org – A new study has found that without action on climate change, the millennial generation as a whole will lose nearly $8.8 trillion in lifetime income dealing with the economic, health and environmental impacts of climate change. The study, “The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials’ Economic Future,” was produced by NextGen Climate and Demos. We speak to Heather McGhee, president of Demos and Demos Action.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

The Standing Rock Tribe Speaks Out


The Big Picture RT

Published on Aug 24, 2016

Tim Mentz, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe joins Thom. After more than 1500 people joined with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline construction under the Missouri River – North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple issued an emergency declaration for southwest and south central North Dakota late last week. Dave Archambault II – who is Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe responded with disappointment – writing in response that: “Tribal leaders are committed to non-violence and peaceful prayer as the guiding principle of Cannon Ball River camps. …. This is an opportunity to work together in a spirit of cooperation, and we should take advantage of that opportunity. But with all due respect, the Governor’s declaration of emergency was unfortunate.” And on Monday – North Dakota’s homeland security director ordered that state-owned trailers and water tanks be removed from the protest campsite citing the risk of damage and reports of “unlawful activity.” Those tanks have been the main drinking water supply for the protestors.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice