Chikungunya in Europe: more on climate change

Lewis Smith at Times Online:

Bettina Menne, of the World Health Organisation, will outline today how climate change is causing some insect-borne diseases to spread to new areas as rising temperatures allow them to survive. The chikungunya virus reached Italy this summer, the first time in mainland Europe, through mosquitoes. Seventy-eight cases have been confirmed and 250 more are suspected. Up to now the virus has been present in East Africa, SouthEast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Dr Menne will highlight the issue of malnutrition, which is expected to have its biggest impact in sub-Saharan Africa through crop failures and natural disasters, which are forecast to increase in number and intensity.

The predictions, at the meeting in London of the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC) come amid growing scientific concern about the way global warming will affect people’s lives. Scientists discussed a 980-page document containing the detailed findings of the IPCC Working Group II, which published a 15-page summary in April.

“The choice is now between a future with a damaged world and a future with a severely damaged world,” said Professor Martin Parry, of the Met Office and joint chairman of the working group. “It’s quite striking how big the challenge is. It’s not so long ago that we were all talking about how our children and grandchildren would be affected by climate change. Now, looking at this evidence, it’s in our own lifetimes.”

More here.