Sunday, February 07, 2016
Stephen Harper and the Little Killer
When most people think of climate change they probably think of images like this one.
A scorched earth, starving people, and wars over water.
But when I think of climate change I also think of this little killer.
Because I studied it in university to try to understand how we can stop it from killing about half a million people a year by spreading diseases like malaria, yellow fever and dengue.
So you can imagine how I felt when just as I thought we were finally winning the war against that deadly blood sucker, only to see it strike back with a vengeance.
In recent months, the Zika virus has ripped through the Americas like wildfire, sparking a pandemic that nobody saw coming. Zika has gone “from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions,” says World Health Organization director-general Margaret Chan, who warned that it is spreading “explosively” through the region. With up to 1.5 million cases in Brazil alone, the WHO predicts there could soon be up to four million people infected across the Americas.
Cause so much human misery so quickly....
Of the kind that can rip your heart out.
And to make matters even worse, could have such a devastating effect on the rights and lives of women.
“If you have a generation of pregnant women terrified of going outside,” says Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, “that’s going to be a game-changer.”
Especially poor women who often can't choose when to become pregnant, and can't properly protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitos.
As well as ruining the economies of many countries that depend on tourism.
And while for us, for now, this is good news.
The WHO predicts that it will spread to all regions in the Americas, except for Canada and continental Chile, where the type of mosquito that carries it can’t survive.
It almost certainly won't last.
For if our climate keeps warming up as it has in the place where I live...
Where the other day it was fifteen degrees, and there isn't a snow flake on the ground, or a speck of ice on the lake.
That little killer will arrive here sooner or later.
Just like other tropical diseases like West Nile fever have also established themselves in Canada.
For it is also travelling on the wings of climate change and globalization.
Bacteria and viruses are typically homebodies comfortable in local ecologies where they achieve a nice balance among the local inhabitants: animal, insect, and human. They move when the environment changes – through deforestation or urbanization – or when humans carry them to new places.
We have known since the days of plague that travellers sometimes carry infections with them. And, too, we’ve understood that poverty is a perfect field for infections to expand. But we forget. It’s easier to spray a pond to prevent mosquito growth than to attend to the environmental causes of infectious disease.
Which of course, for those of us who live in Canada, was something Stephen Harper forgot to warn us about...
Along with other public health threats like this one.
Dust blown away from stockpiles left over after oil sands upgrading is very likely a key source of a cancer-linked pollutant commonly found in the northern Alberta region, concludes a new peer-reviewed study.
Because he was too busy promoting the interests of Big Oil, and torching the planet, in the manner of a madman.
And really what more can anyone say?
Except may the healing hand of goodness care for these poor little babies, and console their shattered parents...
And may the divine hand of justice descend on the heads of the planet burners....
The ones who thought they could fool with Mother Nature and get away with it.
The ones who claimed they were building pipelines to a bright and prosperous future.
But were in fact killing us...
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