Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rising Temperatures Affect Mount Kenya Residents

On the 14th of this month, I posted regarding house flies being seen at Mount Everest base camp due to global warming; and, how climate change was destroying the glaciers in the area.

Mount Everest base camp has its house flies; and, now Mount Kenya has malaria-bearing mosquitoes.

Photo courtesy TreeHugger.

TreeHugger tells us:
In its most recent report released in April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cautioned that rising temperatures would likely result in "the altered spatial distribution of some infectious disease vectors" and other "mixed effects, such as the decrease or increase of the range and transmission potential of malaria in Africa."

Stephen Morse, a professor at Columbia University, noted at the 107th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology that "environmental changes have always been associated with the appearance of new diseases or the arrival of old diseases in new places." David Rogers of Oxford University, who also spoke at the meeting, explained that the diseases that are most likely to be affected by environmental changes are those carried by insects and ticks. What isn't clear, he added, is whether the diseases would increase or decrease, an uncertainty he ascribed to the lack of a thorough analysis of historical disease record and the need for present-day ground-based surveillance and good predictive models.

Based on current and projected figures, Morse predicted that rising global temperatures would exert a profound impact on the spread of malaria by facilitating the migration of disease vectors, such as mosquitoes, to altitudes that had originally been too cold to support them. "One of the first indicators of rising global temperatures could be malaria climbing mountains," says Morse.

Insect-borne diseases are not limited to third-world countries. Below is a map of the United States showing the spread of dengue fever.

Image courtesy NRDC

Just a few months ago the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) released a report showing how half of the states in the US already have mosquitoes that carry dengue fever. Again, courtesy of global warming.

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