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COVID-19 and Climate Change

COVID-19 and Climate Change

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a siren call for stronger action in the face of global threats. What has been described as the collision of this pandemic with a series of recent extreme weather events has amplified this call, providing a frightening glimpse into the scope of the grim challenges lying in store as the effects of climate change become more prevalent and pronounced.

Infectious Diseases, Pandemics and Climate Hazards

The alarm bells have been ringing for a while. We have all heard the acronyms: SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome] in 2002; H1N1 [swine flu] in 2009; MERS [Middle East respiratory syndrome] in 2012; and now, along with COVID-19, there are reports of a “new emerging flu strain” being found in Chinese pigs.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there is growing evidence that many of the same human activities that are contributing to climate change are also contributing not only to the emergence of new diseases but also to their spread. Research is providing compelling evidence of the extent to which climate change is actually influencing the evolution of organisms in ways that give rise to human diseases. According to Daniel R Brooks, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Toronto, “We live in a world in which human population expansion and increased density, and increased globalization of travel and trade act synergistically with climate change to produce an explosive emerging disease crisis that represents an existential threat to technological humanity.”

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