Tuesday, June 09, 2020

It Shouldn't be Long Before the Novel Coronavirus Shows Its True Face

This is not going to be a great century to be a brown or a black person living in the Third World or a developing country such as India. To be blunt, the virus aside, if the climate doesn't get you, an increasingly likely scenario, then disease or famine quite possibly will.

We may be getting a preview of what the coronavirus unchecked means over the next couple of months.

Even as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to worsen  in India where the hospital infrastructure is already overwhelmed, the country has cried "uncle" and lift the virus lockdown, such as it was.

The people of India, it seems, are just going to have to take their chances and the authorities admit they're throwing in the towel. Why? Governments, federal and state, have decided that even a lot of deaths are outweighed by the threat to the economy of continued closures.

India's economic juggernaut is largely based in its major cities such as Mumbai and Delhi. The population density is not suited to social distancing and there's a lot of poverty. There's a somewhat similar situation unfolding in major cities of South America where the virus spreads through the densely-packed slums, the favelas. It just adds another dimension to the price of poverty.

So, you're overpopulated, the pandemic is worsening, you're throwing in the towel on solutions such as self-isolation, social distancing and your healthcare system is already overwhelmed - what could possibly go wrong?

It's not just India where poverty is thwarting action to tamp down the virus. It's also happening closer to home.
The outbreak is spreading rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean, prompting Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, the director of the Pan American Health Organization, to warn on Tuesday that the unfolding crisis had “pushed our region to the limit.” 
Forced to choose between watching citizens die of the virus or of hunger, governments are loosening lockdowns, even as they watch infections climb.
President Iv├ín Duque of Colombia recently relaxed lockdown rules, allowing local officials to make the final call on regulations. The national caseload subsequently surged.   
New cases reached a new single-day global high on Sunday: 136,000, with three-quarters in just 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia. That adds to a global case tally of more than 7 million people worldwide and more than 400,000 deaths.
Much is still unknown about the disease and how it attacks the body, research that Dr. Fauci described as “a work in progress.” Another looming question, he said, was whether survivors who were seriously ill would fully recover.

Dr. Fauci said that he had spent much of his career studying H.I.V., and that the disease it caused was “really simple compared to what’s going on with Covid-19.”

The differences, he said, included Covid’s broad range of severity: no symptoms at all to critical illness and death, with lung damage, intense immune responses and clotting disorders that have caused strokes even in young people, as well as a separate inflammatory syndrome causing severe illness in some children. 
“Oh my goodness,” Dr. Fauci said. “Where is it going to end? We’re still at the beginning of it.
The Next Big Thing?

Next up will be killer "wet heatwaves." Large parts of India already experience seasonal heatwaves and bouts of high humidity.  They're already close to the limits of human survivability. We now know just how much heat coupled with how much humidity will claim how many lives.

Here are a few recent headlines:  "Deadly humidity events accelerating" (SciDev.Net); "Heatwaves too hot and wet for human life are here" (Eco-Business); "Beat the heat? India struggles to keep cool" (Hindustan Times); "Studies warn of deadly heatwaves around the world" (Yucatan Times); "Killer heat and humidity combination not experienced before" (CNN); "Planet already seeing temperatures beyond human tolerance" (Health 24).

This is pretty much what Camilo Mora's climate researchers at the University of Hawaii warned in 2014 would arrive in the early 2020s. They coined a term for it, "climate departure." Here is where it is predicted to set in.

For many of the countries in this band, especially those closest to  warm, tropical seas, this is shaping up to be a bad time to be poor and vulnerable.

Fortunately we're Canadians and Canada cares about these countries and these people - except, perhaps, when it comes to shirking our responsibility to slash greenhouse gas emissions and, of course, our gawd-given right to flood the world with toxic, low-value, high carbon fossil energy.


Anonymous said...

Just Mother Nature doing her thing. Get 'em girl.

The Disaffected Lib said...

There's an apocalyptic climate scientist, Guy McPherson, who has a blog aptly entitled "Nature Bats Last." Most of this amounts to natural responses we have triggered.

Look at it this way. It took mankind tens of thousands of years to create what we recognize as human civilization. Then it took 12,000 years of human civilization before we first reached a billion in global population. In less than a century and a half we had grown in numbers to 2.5 billion. That's when I was born. Today we're closing in on 8 billion. In just one lifetime, mine, our numbers have increased three fold. 12,000 years to hit 1. 200 years more to hit 8. What grows like that? Cancer. That's a malignancy.

But those numbers don't give the full picture. Not only has the global population burgeoned but we have added decades to human longevity, largely through improvements in diet, healthcare, etc. And we have, since the Industrial Revolution but particularly over the last century, increased GDP - extraction, manufacture, consumption and waste - tenfold, perhaps more.

Earth has experienced five mass extinctions - one by asteroid, the rest by natural events that destabilized the carbon cycle. Now we've embarked on the sixth and, this time, it's man-made.