Further global warming promotes emergence of infectious ailments

More infectious diseases would emerge if global warming further intensifies. Two meteorological experts have voiced the warning and raised the urgency for mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Climate Change Commission (CCC) Vice Chair and Executive Director Emmanuel de Guzman shared this warning with the participants in the recent climate change expenditure-tagging webinar the CCC and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) organized for local government units (LGUs) nationwide.

“The latest climate science already warned us that (a) higher degree of global warming would lead to (the) emergence of new infectious diseases,” de Guzman said, adding that GHG emissions are further warming the Earth and changing the climate, as these discharges continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and trap heat.

Dr. Rodel Lasco, a University of the Philippines professor and scientist, said new studies indicate that disease outbreaks are becoming frequent, and this is attributed to 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 where he presented findings of  a study which 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.

The world body said this increase reflects the combined impact of rapid demographic, environmental, social, technological, and other changes. “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 added.

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.