If you’re tired of the end of winter, you’re not alone. Where we live it seems to be stretching out interminably, with deep snow on the ground and more falling. And now climate change means mosquitoes in winter. Or so we’re told by a doctor on NBC’s “Think” who encountered some of the miserable little bugs in Washington, D.C. in December and immediately blamed global warming. The day after her article appeared, on Feb. 22, NBC did allow that a massive winter storm was affecting 41 of 50 states: “Long-duration periods of snow, ice, heavy rainfall and arctic cold will result in highly disruptive weather through Friday for millions from coast-to-coast”. And in DC itself, as of March 12, the Washington Post still advised “refreeze and wind risks into tonight” with large clouds of… never mind. Just snow particles. We didn’t know such conditions were ideal for mosquitoes but of course there is nothing climate change cannot do.
So according to Dr. Neelu Tummala, “surgeon and co-director of the Climate Health Institute at George Washington University”, everything people like her told you is true and never mind that silly old snow.
“Living in a world affected by climate change is a part of our daily reality. It is what climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe refers to as ‘global weirding.’ All last year effects were glaringly present, from heat extremes over the summer to a record hurricane and wildfire season and, now, to warmer winter temperatures that are marked by winter mosquitoes and wildfires. While the change in seasons is confusing, to say the least, what is most concerning to me, as a physician, is what this warmer weather means for public health.”
As you doubtless guessed, it means everything bad will get worse and everything good will get less good.
"In many parts of the U.S., warmer temperatures and changing precipitation patterns are contributing to a lengthening of the mosquito season. I asked a colleague, Dr. Hana Akselrod, an infectious disease doctor and assistant professor of medicine at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, what this means for public health. ‘The lengthened mosquito season increases risk of transmission of West Nile virus, which is endemic to most of the U.S.,’ she told me.”
So an endemic disease will become endemic. Blast. But wait. You also get dengue, chikungunya and Zika because “mosquitoes are just one small, bloodsucking piece of a growing public health crisis.”
What pray tell is this crisis? Well, symptoms appear to include anxiety, paranoia and political correctness: “The recently released Lancet countdown on health and climate change calls climate change a ‘code red for a healthy future,’ and a joint editorial from more than 230 medical journals published in September calls for ‘emergency action’ to limit global warming.’”
Oddly, the piece says “An estimated 85 percent of the global population lives in areas affected by climate change, according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change” leaving us scratching our heads about where the 15 percent are who don’t experience climate change. Judging by the piece they link to, it’s just that the poorest of the poor don’t have enough machine-learning climate scientists to speculate about how they didn’t have bad weather until now or something. Everybody gets to be a victim, some people more than one way.
Thus the NBC piece lumbers on that “In the U.S., environmental racism has contributed to higher levels of heat exposure for people of color living in urban areas”. Due not to the Urban Heat Island, you understand, but to capitalism, patriarchy and global warming that hits poor black neighbourhoods harder with unerring rhetorical precision.
The piece ends with a perhaps ill-timed call to block energy pipelines not coming from Russia. But who can resist a doctor’s call to like whatever man when “only with more successes like these can we avoid diagnosing more and more people with climate change", to say nothing of sparing Frosty a plague of itchy little bites.
P.S. Send us photos of your winter mosquitoes please. We can’t see ours for the snow.