Further warming promotes emergence of infectious diseases

MANILA – Two experts have raised the urgency for mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, warning that more infectious diseases would emerge if global warming intensifies.

“The latest climate science already warned us that (a) higher degree of global warming would lead to (the) emergence of new infectious diseases,” Climate Change Commission (CCC) Vice Chairperson and Executive Director Emmanuel de Guzman told participants of the climate change expenditure-tagging webinar organized for local government units (LGUs) nationwide by the commission and the Department of the Interior and Local Government and held this month.

De Guzman said GHG emissions are further warming the Earth and changing the climate, as these discharges continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and trap heat.

Scientist and University of the Philippines professor, Dr. Rodel Lasco, said new studies indicate disease outbreaks are becoming frequent.

Lasco said scientists attribute the shortening of the interval between outbreaks to the complex interaction among virology, biodiversity, changes in the climate, poverty, food safety, and population growth.

“I hope we can see there’s a wider connection out there,” he said during the webinar.

Findings of a study he presented during the webinar linked the Zika virus to GHG emissions and climate change.

Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported an apparent increase in infectious diseases, including several newly circulating ones.

This increase reflects the combined impact of rapid demographic, environmental, social, technological, and other changes, the WHO said.

“Climate change will also affect infectious disease occurrence,” it added.

The webinar oriented LGUs on the process of identifying and tagging respective climate change-related initiatives in annual investment programs.

The process aims to help mainstream climate change adaptation and mitigation in LGUs’ target annual budgets.

Difficulties arising from the onslaught of various infectious diseases are among the reasons for making mainstreaming essential, de Guzman said.

“We’re now all grappling with the effects of one such disease,” he said, referring to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), which continues to plague countries worldwide.

De Guzman said countries could no longer afford to further increase GHG emissions.

“Returning to business as usual, therefore, is not an option,” he said.

The way forward, he said, is to instead “heed science and make decisive action towards a greener and more sustainable economic system.”

The CCC’s programs aim to help build climate resilience nationwide and a sustainable economy for the country.

First reported in China, Covid-19 evolved into a pandemic, prompting countries to impose quarantines and lockdowns.

The Department of Health has reported nearly 1.1 million Covid-19 infections in the Philippines as of May 7, with 66,626 active cases. (PNA)

Credit belongs to : www.pna.gov.ph

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