As the world continues to reel under the impact of Covid-19 and several countries battle the outbreak of Monkeypox, a new report paints a grim picture of the connection between climate change and infectious diseases. Researchers have found that 58 per cent of known human infectious diseases have been worsened by one or the other extreme weather events.

While parts of Europe are reeling under a record heatwave, others are facing flood-like situations as rains lash havoc. Meanwhile, the US is facing extreme wildfires, which have burned hundreds of acres of land and forced lakhs of people to be evacuated. Climate change is at the heart of these extreme weather events.

The study published in the journal Nature Climate Change found 1,006 unique pathways in which climatic hazards, via different transmission types, led to pathogenic diseases.

“The human pathogenic diseases and transmission pathways aggravated by climatic hazards are too numerous for comprehensive societal adaptations, highlighting the urgent need to work at the source of the problem: reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” researchers said in the paper.

Doctors, going back to Hippocrates, have long connected diseases to weather, but this study shows how widespread the influence of climate is on human health. “If the climate is changing, the risk of these diseases is changing,” study co-author Dr. Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told The Associated Press.

Apart from infectious diseases, researchers also looked at all types of human illnesses, including non-infectious sicknesses such as asthma, allergies, and even animal bites, to see how many maladies they could connect to climate hazards in some way. The team analysed 286 unique sicknesses and of those 223 of them seemed to be worsened by climate hazards.

Dr. Carlos del Rio, an Emory University infectious disease specialist, who was not part of the study, told AP, “The findings of this study are terrifying and illustrate well the enormous consequences of climate change on human pathogens. Those of us in infectious diseases and microbiology need to make climate change one of our priorities, and we need to all work together to prevent what will be without doubt a catastrophe as a result of climate change.”

While the new study doesn’t do the calculations to attribute specific disease changes, odds, or magnitude to climate change, it did find cases where extreme weather was a likely factor among many. “There is no speculation here whatsoever. These are things that have already happened,” lead author Camilo Mora said.


India today