Pattaya Daily News

29 April 2008 :: 15:04:48 pm 29992

Have The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse Begun Their Awful Ride?

With the impact of global warming, prospects of imminent starvation resulting from the current food crisis and continuing wars and terrorism in many locations world-wide, it is increasingly looking as though the Four Horsemen of the Book of Revelation. War, Famine, Pestilence and Death have been unleashed on the earth.?
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This article is a continuation of the one on the potential impact of Avian Flu. I may be termed a prophet of doom for writing it, but one can hardly hide one’s head in the sand, ostrich like and continue to wax eloquent about such irrelevancies as the US election, or who is likely to win the FA Cup. Incidentally, to continue on the theme of revelations, recent research suggests the ostrich actually puts its head on the surface of the sand to listen out for predators; it doesn’t bury its head in the sand proper.

To continue on the theme of imminent apocalypse, few commentators say it better than Al Gore, who “used to be the next President of the United States”, in his revealing film, “An Inconvenient Truth” where he gives graphic evidence of disruption of the Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere, bathysphere, and cryosphere (ice cover). It shows how climate change presents one of the greatest challenges facing the human race. Gore stresses that the current situation is one of “Earth in the Balance” (the title of his 1992 book), perilously perched on a series of potential climatic fulcrums.

The rapidly receding ice cover receives special attention in “An Inconvenient Truth”, with the bleak warning that many montane glaciers will soon vanish. In Greenland, some outlet glaciers are heading towards the sea at a rate of 14km/year?twice the rate they were slipping only five years ago and the melting of the Himalayan glaciers spell disaster for Southeast Asia. The overall picture is dire for coastal zones from London to Manhattan, and Calcutta to Shanghai.

Earth’s polar ice caps have remained relatively static, from medium to large in size, for over 650 000 years, changing in tandem with levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), ranging from 180 to 280 parts per million (ppm). At the current CO2 level of 380 ppm we have exceeded the “envelope and are sailing swiftly into uncharted, ice starved seas”. One of the direst implications of the melting of the icecap, apart from global flooding , and one which has received little attention, is the release of pathogens, frozen within the ice ? Horseman Number 1, the White Horse of Pestilence i.e. plague and disease for which we have no antidotes!

The changes depicted hold enormous implications for human health and wellbeing. Global warming, greater variability in weather patterns, and changes to the timing of seasons are radically destabilising ecological dynamics. They are disrupting the annual rhythms of pollinators, affecting plant patterns, and predators, which are central in preventing prey from becoming pests and carriers of pathogens. The health of humans, forests, crops, wildlife, and marine life are all at stake. Coral reefs, the oldest habitat on Earth and the “medicine chests of the sea,” are under threat from warming induced bleaching and disease.

The scenario of abrupt climate change as depicted in the doomsday film thriller “The Day After Tomorrow”, signifying how much Hollywood’s attention has been grabbed. This, however, is hardly surprising after the New Orleans catastrophe and the deaths in France after the recent heatwave. Extreme weather events such as severe storms, floods, and drought have claimed millions of lives during the past 20 years and have adversely affected the lives of many more as well as costing colossal amounts in property damage. The El Niño phenomenon is the strongest short-term driver of climate variability globally (excluding seasonal variability). It already causes natural disasters that pose health risks, particularly droughts, on a global scale and the adverse El Niño effects are is predicted increase in frequency and intensity. All of which spell ultra-adverse global Health impacts, especially from diseases.

 

 The health of millions, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), will be damaged if world temperatures continue to rise in the train of climate change. Increasing temperatures will aid the spread of water-borne diseases, and those carried by insects, it forecasts. This means an increase in malaria, dengue fever and SARS, West Nile, hantavirus, Ebola, Nipah, Hendra, AIDS and many other infectious diseases. Climatic changes could even lead to more outbreaks of bubonic plague among human populations, a study in August, 2006, suggested.

Then we have the spectre of the Black Horseman, famine and mass starvation caused by recent escalation of global food prices, already posing a very real threat, not to mention the continual threat posed by the Red Horseman of War, especially with ominous warnings by presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton’s that in the event that she was elected she would “obliterate” Iran in the event of its attacking Israel. That’s not even counting Iraq, Afghanistan and ominous sabre rattling by Russia over Georgia. The upcoming scenario for the world does not look too promising!

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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