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The Coronavirus Pandemic & Climate Change: the Indisputable Link


A girl in the midst of a crowd, most-likely a demonstration. She is holding a poster, that has a drawn image of a girl with hair like the earth. On the poster, there is also text that reads "A smile to protecc".

Over the past few weeks, many have heard about the positive impacts on the environment from the COVID-19 crisis. One of the examples is Venice's canals which are completely clear for the first time in decades and reports of a drastic reduction in the level of carbon pollution in the air due to the collapse of air traffic. However, the relationship between the environment and the pandemic is not one-sided.


In particular, there is clear evidence that decades of global environmental neglect and climate change impacts are contributing to an increase in the number and severity of global pandemics. Scientists have also found some direct connections between climate change and the spread of a global pandemic.

SO HOW IS THE ENVIRONMENT CONNECTED TO THE SPREAD OF DISEASE?

1. Urbanization

Sebuah jalanan dengan beberapa bangunan dan jalanan yang penuh dengan kemacetan

Rapid urbanization in many countries such as Indonesia represents a major problem in the spread of disease among its populations. Due to various economic and environmental factors, most of the rural population moved to big cities.


An increase in population density generally results in [1,2,3]:

  • Diseases spread faster

  • More people in the acute area of the outbreak (who can become infected)

  • Increased risk of animals that are generally carriers of diseases such as rats and mosquitoes


2. Climate change & Mosquitoes


Rising temperature more mosquitoes more disease

Climate change is increasing the global mosquito population as their breeding grounds increase. Higher temperatures mean mosquitoes can live in more areas than before, and reproduce more quickly in the areas they already live in [2,5].

A thriving city is an ideal place for mosquitoes to breed, due to the innumerable sources of water, such as water pipes, lakes, ponds, and waterways, as well as an almost unlimited supply of blood as a food source. Climate change also increases rainfall levels, which in turn increases the number of short-term water sources, such as standing water in which mosquitoes can reproduce [2,5].


Although mosquitoes are not specific carriers of COVID-19, they still spread diseases (such as malaria and dengue fever) more efficiently and in some parts of the world [7]. If not treated properly, these diseases can lead to severe illness or even death. For example, WHO estimates the death toll from malaria at 405,000 in 2018 [8].


3. Climate change & Pathogen


Rising temperature → more resistant pathogens → our body can't fight disease efficiently

Sebuah poster di depan sebuah gedung. Di poster tersebut, terdapat tuilisan "I want a hot date not a hot planet", yang berarti "saya ingin sebuah pacar, bukan  dunia yang panas."

Another problem with rising temperatures due to climate change is the fact that this will result in resistant pathogens. Pathogens are organisms that cause disease, they are classified as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites [9].

One of the ways our bodies fight disease is to raise body temperature (fever). However, by increasing the temperature of the earth's surface, more pathogens will become resistant to our body systems and increase the danger posed [4].

The threat posed by humans is the fact that some animals that are known to carry and spread harm, such as bats can regulate their body temperature more, which means they will not promote increased pathogen resistance [7].


That way, when the human mortality rate increases due to a pandemic, the mortality rate of these animals will not appear, so they can carry and spread harmful pathogens for a long time [7].

4. The Increase of Natural Disasters


Extreme weather conditions → more natural disasters → the government's can't handle the pandemic efficiently


The increase in natural disasters caused by climate change is another important factor to discuss. Weather changes are generally believed by scientists to result in longer dry periods, followed by more extreme, but less frequent, rains. This results in increased droughts and forest fires as the land does not receive rain for a long time, and therefore becomes drier. Furthermore, stronger rains are at risk of causing flooding because very dry soil takes longer to absorb water. Going forward, scientists have found that changing weather patterns due to climate change mean extreme storms, including hurricanes and hurricanes, will increase in both quantity and strength [10].


Researchers have found an increase in natural disasters reduces a country's ability to deal with pandemics and increases infection rates effectively [5].


For some countries, natural disasters increase the rate of urbanization as they are often damaged by these events, leaving them with no choice but to move to cities to find safety and work. Furthermore, natural disasters also destroy the infrastructure needed during the handling of the pandemic such as roads, hospitals, and other health infrastructure [5].

Seorang perempuan yang memegang sebuah payung. Dibelakangnya, terdapat banyak sampah.

 

Naturally, the reasons behind the spread of a pandemic are complex and cannot be explained simply by changes in the weather. However, researchers have demonstrated that there is a clear relationship between the two. Ultimately, we think it's important to state that this study shows us how the effects of this worsening climate vary widely.


Climate change will not only affect animal populations, not only societies in the next fifty years, not only certain populations in certain areas that are vulnerable, it will affect all of us.

We are Project Planet hoping that you are all safe and well during this crisis. Stay indoors as much as possible and don't forget to wash your hands!

 

Co-contributor: Tobias Ehrlich Sumber: [1]https://www.dhakatribune.com/world/2020/03/22/coronavirus-first-of-many-pandemics-environmentalists-warn [2] https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-4614-4496-1_4 [3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525302/ [4]https://biomedicalsciences.unimelb.edu.au/news-and-events/pandemics,-pathogens-and-the-environment [5]https://www.swissre.com/dam/jcr:552d59b2-76c6-4626-a91a-75b0ed58927e/Pandemics_in_a_changing_climate_Full_report_FINAL.pdf [6] https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/12/eaau5294.full [7] https://time.com/5779156/wuhan-coronavirus-climate-change/ [8] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malaria [9] https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-a-pathogen#types #coronavirus #covid19 #coronaindonesia #covidindonesia #climatechange #environment #corona

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