On Tuesday, the Biden administration presented a report on climate change in the United States, drawing connections between the two and a higher risk of pandemics.
The Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA 5) investigates the connection between global warming and epidemics like the recent COVID-19 outbreak. The study predicts that pandemics will become more frequent and severe as the projected repercussions of climate change set in over time and that these effects “[require] early societal action and institutional change” to avoid or mitigate.
“Climate-driven changes in ecosystems raise the likelihood of developing infectious illnesses by modifying interactions among people, pathogens, and animals, and increasing social and biological sensitivity to infection,” the paper states. As the article puts it, “the danger of infection among persons at the front lines of exposure, especially those with limited resources, is very high.”
According to the paper, over half of all pathogenic illnesses, especially those transmitted by animals or vectors, are made worse by climate change. Environmental shifts impact vector and non-human host distribution, diversity, and abundance, as well as the susceptibility of hosts to illness and the potential pace of pathogen replication. According to the report, climate change is connected to the birth of new diseases and the rapid spread of existing ones.
Despite the NCA 5’s assertions that they have a variety of solutions to get ahead of the next pandemic, several significant questions about the causes of the previous pandemic remain unexplained. The White House has not considered whether COVID-19 came from a lab leak, but it is currently studying the topic.
As stated in NCA 5, COVID-19 and climate change share common underlying challenges and solutions, such as the importance of collective solutions among nations to mitigate threats.
According to NCA 5, natural disasters like hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, heat waves, and air pollution all played a role in the spread of COVID-19 and the severity of illnesses, especially in minority and low-income populations.
On pandemics, Steve Milloy, senior legal scholar at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute, said, “Infectious diseases, viruses, and bacteria cause pandemics.” Human activity cannot be definitively blamed for the slight warming over the past 150 years. Worldwide mosquito populations respond very little to changes in average global temperature. It’s essential to keep things clean and use pest spray.