Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Listen to the little things

Climate change: disease spread fears

In the novel "War of the Worlds" by HG Wells, you'll find one of the most famous quotes in SciFi history. Near the end, the narrator stares in wonderment into a huge dug-out pit, a sort of bivouac for the invading martians and their machines of war, now miraculously stopped in their tracks:

...And, scattered about it, some in their overturned war machines...and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the martians--dead! Slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared...slain, after all man's devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth...

We should listen to the littlest things. At the 23rd International Congress of Entomology , a dire warning was issued:

"...Today's lifestyles are energy dependent and the increased demand is leading to an increased warming in the atmosphere," said Dr John Githure of the African Insect Science for Food and Health based in Nairobi, Kenya. He told fellow entomologists that the most worrying effect was the spread of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, on the African continent...

Not only is Global warming bringing about an increase in the populations of insect vectors, it is allowing them to increase their range:

...Githure explained that his study had documented an "intensified transmission to areas that weren't affected before, as parasites were finding new places to breed...The external changes in the temperature have a direct effect on the metabolism and development of parasites," said Githure...

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