- An increase in breeding sites for mosquitoes, water contamination, toxic algal blooms and rodent abundance
- Temperature increase of just 2-3 degrees will expose millions more globally to malaria alone
- Melting ice releasing viruses frozen in permafrost for thousands of years
You’ve probably already come across our article detailing what your cities future climate will look like in the coming decades continuing at todays current greenhouse gas emission rates. Dramatic temperature changes will leave some North American cities most comparable to cities in Mexico. A more humid, subtropical climate is expected for much of the north eastern United States. A desert like Southern California climate is expected for many western cities. Floods, droughts and extreme weather patters are immediate disasters caused by climate change, but the implications of this stretches much farther. The dangers of climate change carrying the highest potential for damage will occur from animals and bacteria able to survive in places that were once inhospitable. A subtropical humid climate that is expected for many North American and European regions can be especially alarming because it supports an entire new ecosystem that native species have are not adapted for. Climate change is allowing new species of all kinds to thrive where local ecosystems are completely unprepared.
Invasive Species Already Thriving
Non-native invasive species already wreak serious havoc on ecosystems today in sub-tropical Florida. Animals such as Burmese pythons notoriously reign supreme in the Florida Everglades. Predatory fish such as catfish also completely dominate some waterways with no natural predators. The lack of prey is allowing them to feast on the native animals that today support a healthy ecosystem. Believe it or not, there are even wild monkeys (macaques) that live in Silver Spring State Park, smack dab in the centre of Florida. A study found that there is a risk of this population doubling by 2022 even though around 1000 macaques were removed from the USA before 2012 in an effort since controversially abandoned.
Plants, mosquitoes, birds, rodents, fish, spiders, snakes and reptiles will surely have no problem finding their way over into foreign lands. With them come the bacteria and viruses they carry.
How Will Global Warming Increase Our Exposure To Diseases?
Thanks to global warming we are expecting to see an increase in breeding sites for mosquitoes, water contamination, toxic algal blooms and rodent abundance.
Many of these climate conditions are becoming more and more ideal for disease carrying mosquitoes like the Asian tiger mosquito. Dengue fever is already spreading faster throughout Mexico in recent years due to more favorable climate conditions, an illness that resembles the zika virus transferred from mosquitoes. The most deadly aspect of these invasions brought on by rising global temperatures is that native species (including us) are not adapted to withstand the bacteria and viruses that the non-indigenous ones may carry and transmit.
Threats like malaria could also potentially return to Europe and North America, a curable disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people each year across the globe. The World Health Organization expects that temperature increases of just 2-3 degrees would increase the number of people who are at risk of malaria by 3-5% potentially affecting millions of people. Other parasites, viruses, and invaders could also be detrimental to our plants species, both land and marine. Extinction of plants causes an immediate threat to the food chain and could happen in the blink of an eye. When the climates change, it is really out of our control at that point which life forms will succeed and survive there, even more-so at a bacterial level.
Viruses Frozen For Thousand of Years are Being Released
Another danger from rising temperatures and melting ice is that plagues and diseases carried by humans or animals from hundreds, or even thousand of years prior, are currently buried frozen beneath the ice. Approximately 75 years ago, a reindeer died in Siberia carrying a rare disease virus that became frozen in Siberian permafrost. A 2016 heat wave thawed the animal and released the virus, fatally impacting thousands of animals. It was responsible for taking the life of a 12 year old boy. In 2005 a study was able to revive a virus frozen for well over 30,000 years.
The recent warming temperatures are creating a potential for outbreaks of sicknesses that once wiped out entire species. A New York Times article highlights the destruction and dangers happening now in their piece “Russian Land of Permafrost and Mammoths Is Thawing.” Current defrosting in Russia is causing mass flooding resulting in serious damage for city infrastructure, in some cases actually pulling bodies out of their grave sites. More than 2/3 of the entire country is covered in permafrost
Researchers created an interactive map showing how climate change will impact your city
Rising global temperatures and climate change are creating breeding grounds for disease carrying flies and insects. Native species are being overtaken by unfamiliar prey who have no natural predators, while spreading diseases to those they contact with no built up immunity. The effects of the ongoing climate crisis runs extremely deep, affecting every plant, animal and person on the planet. The most dangerous result of climate change may not be rising sea levels or droughts, but invasive animals along with disease outbreaks that take regions by surprise.