18 September 2007

Odds and ends

A few miscellaneous news items related to previous posts on planet doom?

Just days after the post Disease and climate change, which noted the possibility of the disease Leishmaniasis extending its range comes a report detailing just that. Nine people in north Texas, in the vicinity of Dallas have been confirmed to have acquired the parasitic disease. The people who have fallen afoul of this infliction have not visited areas where the disease is endemic. "This is very strong evidence that the areas we need to consider endemic are moving north", reported the doctor confirming the diagnosis.

The melting ice of the Arctic is affecting political and social change in Greenland. While the retreat of the ice is eliminating the traditional way of life based on hunting, the warming is also allowing residents to produce potatoes and broccoli. It is also record catches of fish and creating opportunities for exploitation of mineral resources, possibly including oil. The potential wealth from mineral exploration is fueling dreams of a self-sufficient and independent Greenland, as well as creating social tensions and upheaval.

Finally, Australia's climate change woes continue. Despite a La Nina being officially declared recently(by the US, anyway. Australia still hasn't officially announced it yet...), unprecedented drought continues is the agricultural regions of the nation. Historically, La Nina years bring abundant rainfall to Australia, but the late timing and unusual temperature structure of this particular event is preventing this from occurring. As a result, the wheat harvest is likely to fail again this year, sending already high prices soaring. The wine industry, one of the leading exports, is also threatened if the drought continues. In Sydney, current water restrictions have been made permanent, in anticipation of continuing and future drought.

Worldwide, the signs continue to point towards ongoing climate change. If, as seems likely, these trends continue, we face a crisis of unprecedented magnitude. While we cannot be 100% certain these effects are due to climate change, do we really want to take the chance? It is our children's future. Let's take steps to correct our unsustainable lifestyle and give them a chance at a better life.

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