I can’t fathom that my last post was in January. Where does time go? Throughout this year, I have drafted several posts, worked on models and exhibits, but never finished anything to publish. Either I got distracted, the relevance of the point passed, I read something that made the point more elegantly than me, or I simply forgot. I seem to have got out of the habit of posting, focusing on other things, which is fine but something I’d like to get back to in 2022.
Anyway, the reason for this post is that as we approach the end of the year, I wanted to share a webinar and a website that I have found particularly insightful and useful this year. As the threat from COVID seemed to be abating, prior to the new Omicron strain emerging (which itself will hopefully pass), and the fall from grace of populist tendencies (the increasing nakedness of emperors like Boris and the Brexiteers’ fantasies becoming all too apparent), attention for a brief period this year was focused on the real issue of our time – climate change. Like me, I am sure you have also attended many webinars this year on a range of topics. It is such a pleasure to dip in and out of events that previously would have required time-out travelling to be only disappointed by some blatant marketing presentation posing as an expert session on a topic of the day! Well, my webinar of the year goes to a chap called Spencer Glendon who presented at a Milliman’s climate change conference. The session below is a follow-up to the main conference, but I found Spencer particularly insightful here. I would highly recommend that you spend the hour listening to this guy.
I would also recommend the non-profit website that he founded; it’s called https://probablefutures.org/. The blurb on the site is that it “offers interactive maps of future climate scenarios using widely accepted climate models, along with stories and explanations designed to help you understand our changing world.” I have found it useful in my work but also thought provoking as we all grapple with what our new shared future will be.
This week kicks off the World Economic Forum (WEF). The great and the good will not be flying in from all around the globe, as many did previously on their private jets, to pontificate on the world’s problems as this year the event is virtual. The situation seems apposite given the mess we are in and the prevalence of environmental risks highlighted in the Global Risks report that precedes each meeting, as shown in the list below.
Infectious diseases have made an obvious come-back onto the list after an absence of 10 odd years. To be fair, nobody foresaw the likelihood or impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and identifying global risk are inherently uncertain. One article that caught my attention on the WEF website was on the link between climate change and pandemics. I did see a TV report earlier this year that highlighted how land development in China was encroaching upon the natural habitat of wildlife resulting in more contact between humans and animals that could be an explanation for the initial Chinese outbreak, if indeed that is where Covid-19 first began (just to ensure I do not sound like the orange vainglorious one!). But that report didn’t stick in my mind. Until now.
As the WEF article highlights, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated there is no evidence of a direct link between climate change and Covid-19. However, they acknowledge that changes in living environments of the animals on Earth caused by climate change may impact infectious diseases. Dr. Anthony Fauci co-authored a paper in September that stated “the COVID-19 pandemic is yet another reminder, added to the rapidly growing archive of historical reminders, that in a human-dominated world, in which our human activities represent aggressive, damaging, and unbalanced interactions with nature, we will increasingly provoke new disease emergences.”
Although not a journal noted for its medical or scientific expertise, this article in December from Rolling Stone on the topic frightened the hell out of me. Just another happy thought to add to expanding list these days! If I had read an article like this a year or older ago, I would likely not have given it as much thought as I do now. And that is a reflection on what the last year has done. Lists of risks such as those in the WEF Global Risks report seem a lot more real today.
Posted in Climate Change, General
Tagged bats, climate change, covid 19, dengue fever, Dr Anthony Fauci, environmental risks, Global Risks report, infectious diseases, inherently uncertain, Malaria, mosquitoes, orange vainglorious one, pandemic age, real risks, risks feel real, Rolling Stone, WEF, WHO, wildlife habitat, World Economic Forum