Wednesday, 17 August 2016 00:00

Diseases Traced to Global Warming

As the debate continues about global warming, one issue has emerged that goes beyond melting glaciers and rising seas levels: Diseases -- some new and some long with us -- are starting to show up in regions of the world where they had never been imagined to exist.

When permafrost melts, pathogens that have been encased in ice for hundreds of years can be freed. Also, when temperatures heat up, mosquitoes that carry diseases can travel over greater distances, resulting in the spread of illnesses from tropical regions to traditionally colder climates.

LiveScience took a closer look at some of the diseases emerging on the threat horizon:

Anthrax: About a month ago, a herd of Siberian reindeer were hit with a wave of anthrax, which killed about 2,000 of the animals and affected a few people, as well. The source of the disease transmission was traced to a 75-year-old reindeer carcass which had recently thawed due to warming temperatures.

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Things are heating up climate-wise faster than previously thought.

And the quickening pace of global warming isn't just another statistic, warn Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo. While 2015 logged in as the warmest on record (average yearly temperatures were almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit higher than during the era before the Industrial Revolution), the uptick in temperature might actually be higher than initially measured -- which would put the planet more than halfway toward a limit that was established in Paris last year to warn against warming that could possibly result in world-wide catastrophe.

The limit in question was set at 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. However, NCAR scientist Gerald Meehl says that the Earth has moved well past the halfway point, or 1 degree Celsius, that last year's uptick represents.

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Over the years, scientists have paid particular attention to major changes in the Earth’s landscape, expressing concerns that climate change may be responsible. One of the most recent changes involves a lake in Bolivia, which has completely evaporated. Lake Poopó was once the second largest lake in the country, nurturing and providing livelihood to hundreds of people.

While Lake Poopó has evaporated before and rebounded, experts believe the most recent evaporation is permanent. The population of one of the lakeside villages in the area has dwindled to only the elderly as hundreds of families have sold their livestock and moved out of the area.

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