Today is World Environment Day, designated to help raise awareness of the need for global environmental action. A cause for celebration? Unfortunately, there’s little good news related to the environment and climate change, especially as it relates to health.
Indeed, there’s a growing sense of alarm in the world public health community over the impacts of climate change. Just one item, highlighted in a recent issue of Scientific American – Diseases formerly common only to the tropics are popping up in “temperate” zones like the U.S., aided by volatile weather and warming temperatures.
Illnesses such as schistosomiasis, dengue, West Nile virus, and Chagas disease, endemic to equatorial regions, seem to be gaining footholds in North America, and very soon will lose any vestigial flavor of the exotic.
What does the future hold? The crystal ball remains cloudy, in large part because we are, via climate change, conducting a sort of uncontrolled mass experiment on all life forms – including the human species – never before witnessed on the planet. But indicators, including the spread of tropical diseases, are not encouraging.