When we think about the negative effects of global warming, we often just think of rising sea levels, warmer temperatures, and more hurricanes, tornados and other natural weather disasters. Although these are the main issues that we will all be inflicted with, global warming will cause many other problems that we may be able to counteract with the actions we take today.
“Effects of Global Warming on the State of Florida”, written by Environmental Entrepreneurs, explains that higher temperatures could increase insect-borne diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus, and dengue fever. According to the University of Florida, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, and West Nile fever/encephalitis are all very important mosquito-borne diseases that occur throughout Florida.
In addition, there are currently 80 species of mosquitoes in Florida. Last July, an article published in Highlands Todayreported that mosquitoes are an increasing concern in Florida. Central Florida had cases of eastern equine encephalitis and dengue fever. There was also a case in northern Hillsborough County of a woman who died from eastern equine encephalitis, which was the first death from the disease since 2008. In Central Florida there were five cases of dengue fever and 17 cases in Key West, where the last outbreak was in 1934.
An interesting book, The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook, by David De Rothschild, which includes 77 essential skills for stopping climate change, explains that scientists have found that global warming is increasing the spread of the West Nile virus in the U.S. In 1999 there were only 62 cases, in 2006 the number of cases rose to 4,000 (Rothschild, 2007, pg 90).
In order to control the insect population and spread of disease there are multiple things you can do:
- Build a bat box- the most common bat in North America, little and big brown bats can catch up to 1,200 insects an hour. (Rothschild, 2007, pg 90),
- Drain standing water that mosquitoes use to deposit eggs,
- Empty and clean bird baths and pet’s water bowls at least once or twice a week,
- Protect boats and other vehicles where water may become trapped,
- Check the chemicals of your pool often and empty children’s pools when not in use,
- Cover your body with clothes or insect repellent when outside,
- Keep mosquitoes out of your house by using screens and be sure to repair them when broken or torn (source: Florida Department of Health).
We may now be experiencing the results of decades of reckless burning of fossil fuels, but we can counteract their effects by taking these minor steps.
Rothschild, David De (2007). The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook. New York, New York: Rodale Books.