Threat Bigger than Terrorism

"Current preoccupation is with terrorism, but in the long term climate change will outweigh terrorism as an issue for the international community. . . . Climate change is going to make some very fundamental changes to human existence on the planet." —David Anderson, a former Canadian environment minister.

Quoted in, "Official: Global Warming Bigger Threat than Terrorism," February 6, 2004. reut/index.html.

Since tropical weather is expected to expand as temperatures rise, another health effect is that dangerous tropical diseases could spread into higher altitudes and latitudes. Malaria, for ex-

Although the use of nets could greatly reduce the number of deaths due to malaria, many people in affected areas are too poor to afford them.

ample, is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which thrive in warmer temperatures. As temperatures rise, many experts expect mosquitoes to travel farther and expand the territory subject to malaria infections. A similar threat may come from influenza, or the flu. Global warming could release flu microbes that have been locked in glaciers for centuries, potentially creating deadly new types of flu. In addition, experts say the indirect effects of global warming, such as drought and flooding, could send millions of rural residents fleeing into the cities, where dense housing conditions could help spread many other highly infectious illnesses such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Scientists, however, cannot predict exactly how diseases will respond to the multitude of anticipated climate changes. As Stephen Morse of Columbia University said: "Environmental changes have always been associated with the appearance of new diseases or the arrival of old diseases in new places. With more [global warming] changes, we can expect more surprises."30

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