Climate Change an Age of Catastrophes and Pandemics

During a worldwide coronavirus pandemic, the looming dangers from climate change have almost been forgotten.     But climate change is still the greatest threat to humanity, the planet and a contributing factor in developing diseases. 

Mother Earth has been polluted, raped and disrespected for years, and she is sending a wake-up message to respect the Earth and the animals because everything is out of balance. Our ecosystems, governmental systems, healthcare systems, and financial systems are all falling apart.

The fossil fuel industry, deforestation, corporate animal farms, and the war industry can share the blame with many others for increasing the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere causing the planet to heat up and put future generations in danger.

The World Meteorological Organization Warns that Global Warming is Increasing

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issued its 2019 annual report that states key indicators are getting worse, and not enough is being done to control global warming.

https://library.wmo.int/doc_num.php?explnum_id=10211

Temperature:  The global mean temperature for 2019 was 1.1 celsius above pre-industrial levels.  The past five years are the five warmest on record.   

Main Greenhouse Gas Concentrations:  

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) at 407.8 parts per million (ppm) above 350 ppm is not safe.

Methane (CH4) at 1869.2 parts per billion (ppb)  

Nitrous Oxide (N2O) at 331.1 ppb

These levels represent a carbon dioxide increase of 147%, methane increase 259% and nitrous oxide increase 123% from pre-industrial levels, according to the WMO report.

Carbon Dioxide is produced from fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, and cement production.  Methane is produced from fossil fuel production, agriculture, and landfills. Nitrous Oxide is produced from fertilizer application, fossil fuel, and biomass combustion and industrial processes.

Ocean Heat Content: reached record high levels in 2019.

Global Sea Level:  In 2019, the global mean sea level reached its highest value.    Sea level continues to rise due partly to the increased melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

Ocean Acidification:  CO2 absorbed in seawater decreases its potential of hydrogen (pH) in the ocean. As pH decreases, acidification increases and destroys coral reefs. 

Sea-ice Extent and the Mass Balance of Glaciers and Ice Sheets:  2019 saw a low sea-ice extent in both the Arctic and the Antarctic with September 2019 the second-lowest in the satellite record.

Climate Change Disasters, New Viruses, and Pandemics 

Last year the world watched Australia, Africa, Siberia, and the Amazon on fire.  While parts of the world burn, the frozen Arctic and Antarctica continue to melt with Antarctica experiencing a heat wave with record 65 degree temperatures.

The world has gone through one catastrophe after another, with more category five hurricanes, stronger tornadoes, and earthquakes in areas not seen before.  Five hundred year floods now occur frequently as other areas experience droughts and wildfires. All of these disasters kill millions of animals, kill and displace people, destroy homes, cause migration of animals and people seeking safety.  

All up and down the Atlantic Coast, Gulf Coast, and Pacific Coastline, states are experiencing climate change with sea-level rise, floods, extreme heat, and frequent and more intense hurricanes and unpredictable weather. 

The West is experiencing a 20-year drought as the Southwest is experiencing drastic flooding.  

Climate change puts pressure on drinking water supplies, food production, and property values around the world.   

Along with climate change catastrophes, new viruses and diseases are emerging.  Scientists worry that long-dominant viruses could be released as the planet heats up and glaciers melt.   

Recently, a research team extracted two ice cores from the Tibetan Plateau to learn about its bacterial composition.  Locked in the glacier ice researchers discovered fifteen-thousand-year old viruses with 28 never seen before virus groups, as reported in LiveScience.   

https://www.livescience.com/unknown-viruses-discovered-tibetan-glacier.html

“The climate crisis is making outbreaks of infectious diseases more common with the destruction of natural animal habitats…animals and humans come into closer contact thus making new pathogens more likely,” Sonia Shah, an investigative science journalist, tells Democracy Now.

As climate change heats up the planet, it creates a petri dish for the spread of these viruses.

In the past 50 years over 300 new pathogens have emerged with about 70% of these new pathogens originating in the bodies of wild animals that are sold in meat markets.   This is how microbes that live in wild animal bodies can spill over into human bodies and turn into pandemics, as reported on Democracy Now. 

Frightening deadly diseases like Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that came from a chimpanzee in West Africa, SARS (from civet cats), MERS (from camels), Ebola (from bats), and coronavirus (from bats or pangolins) in a wild meat market in Wuhan, China.

Poor people are eating unsafe food and getting diseases that’s trickling up to kill the rich and poor alike. This problem may be ongoing until there is a global effort to eradicate poverty and provide healthcare for everyone.

In past years, these viral epidemics stayed local. But today with airplanes an infected person on one side of the world can be on the other side of the world in a matter of hours.

The risk of pandemics can be reduced by not cutting programs that have been successful for years in containing disease.   For example, the Predict program looks for microbes that might turn into pathogens. For over ten years, this program found about 900 different microbes and was able to contain them at their source, as reported on Democracy Now.

The Trump administration cut the Predict program, fired the leadership and dismantled the pandemic program, cut funds to the Center for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health and other healthcare programs that protect citizens from diseases.  

They also cut billions from the Environmental Protection Agency that address climate change, and protects clean air, water and land. Now, we are beginning to see the result of ignoring science with respect to disease and climate change. 

Ways to Stop Global Warming

Demand that Congress stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry which is the main contributor to carbon dioxide. 

Stop deforestation and instead plant more trees.

Institute a climate-friendly agricultural system with smaller family farms and end corporate animal farms.  

Build more mass transportation systems and more energy-efficient cars. 

Increase wind and solar power, and produce biofuels from organic waste 

Each person can drive less, recycle more, use less hot water, turn your thermostat down in winter and up in summer, avoid products with a lot of packaging, turn off electronic devices you are not using, eat more vegetables and less meat, and plant a tree.

We have the science and the technologies to slow down and solve climate change, but what we don’t have is leadership in DC and courage to change. 

written by Gloria Tatum

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