Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"A collective action problem"

The greatest threat to our national security is our unwillingness to address issues until they become catastrophic problems...and even then...
...detecting disease outbreaks remains a challenge, particularly in impoverished areas where medical care and modern communications systems are absent. A serious outbreak could soon overwhelm local governments and spur mass migration of infected victims across international borders.

"There are no international contingency plans for such an occurrence, nor are even the basic information systems in place to link (disease reporting) to potential response mechanisms like the U.N. Security Council or NATO," the National Intelligence Council concluded in a report it released two months ago.

Health officials question whether even the United States is prepared to handle the unpredictable impacts of climate change. Many local health systems lack trained health technicians who can diagnose new diseases, and the right epidemiological equipment.

They note that diseases once considered rare in the United States, such as dengue fever and West Nile virus, are no longer uncommon. West Nile virus, which was reintroduced to the United States in 1994, is now present in 44 states, while the mosquitoes that carry dengue fever are found in counties where 173.5 million Americans live.[...]

What role politics will play in the United States' ability to prepare for a climate-related health catastrophe in the new Republican-led House remains to be seen. In 2007, the administration of President George W. Bush deleted six pages from the prepared congressional testimony of then-CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding that detailed the human health impacts of climate change.[...]

"We're making progress, but it's a slower progress than it needs to be," [Former director of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health, now the dean of the University of Washington's School of Public Health Howard] Frumkin said. Climate change "is advancing far faster than has been forecast. We need to be ready not in 20 years or in 30 years, but relatively soon."

Most problems have a solution. I can't come up with one for a lack of political and social will.

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