Whipsaw of Damocles
Last week I gave a talk on climate change and pandemic influenza at the University of Washington. My presentation was a part of the Biological Futures in a Globalized World series held at the Simpson Center for the Humanities.
I was initially dubious about a connection between the crises until, as these things go, I investigated further. There appear a number of mechanistic relationships tying together the two catastrophes.
There may be a number of ways out of the jams as well, as millions of farmers around the world are advancing alternate futures right out from underneath agribusiness.
UPDATE. We should add another possible connection between climate change and influenza not in the presentation.
According to Shaman and Lipsitch (2012), the last four pandemics (1918, 1957, 1968 and 2009) were preceded by La Niña conditions that, changing patterns of waterfowl migration, may have rejuxtaposed serotypes and prompted new reassortants. As Mother Jones‘ Kiera Butler points out, reporting on this year’s H1N1 (2009) influenza, climate change affects the El Niño–Southern Oscillation.