A new study examining the impact of geoengineering uses climate models to identify which temperatures are most conducive for malaria transmission by the Anopheles mosquito and identify how many people live in areas where transmission is possible.
Geoengineering the climate would have massive repercussions for the health of billions of people at risk of malaria who live in tropical countries, according to a new finding by scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center and colleagues.
The study appeared April 20, 2022, in Nature Communications.
This is the first assessment of how geoengineering the climate could impact the burden of infectious diseases. The study focuses on solar radiation management (SRM), an intervention that hypothesizes emergency actions aimed at reducing dangerous impacts of climate change. One action that has been proposed is injecting aerosols into the stratosphere that reflect incoming sunlight, thereby temporarily “pausing” global warming. Though SRM is often discussed as a way to reduce climate injustice, its potential impacts on health have seldom been studied.
“The implications of the study for decision-making are significant,” says Colin Carlson, PhD, an assistant research professor at the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center and lead author of the study. “Geoengineering might save lives, but the assumption that it will do so equally for everyone might leave some countries at a disadvantage when it comes time to make decisions. If geoengineering is about protecting populations on the frontlines of climate change, we should be able to add up the risks and benefits — especially in terms of neglected health burdens, such as mosquito-borne disease.”
A team of eight researchers from the United States, Bangladesh, South Africa, and Germany used climate models to simulate what malaria transmission could look like in two future scenarios, with medium or high levels of global warming, with and without geoengineering. The models identify which temperatures are most conducive for transmission by the Anopheles mosquito and identify how many people live in areas where transmission is possible.
In both medium- and high-warming scenarios, malaria risk was predicted to shift significantly between regions; but in the high warming scenario, simulations found that a billion extra people were at risk of malaria in the geoengineered world.
“On a planet that’s too hot for humans, it also gets too hot for the malaria parasite,” says Carlson. “Cooling the planet might be an emergency option to save lives, but it would also reverse course on those declines.”
The study follows a 2018 commentary in Nature Climate Change by Carlson and the study’s senior author, Christopher Trisos, PhD, a senior researcher at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. In the commentary, the researchers proposed a hypothesis now confirmed in the new study: because malaria transmission peaks at 25°C, cooling the tropics using geoengineering might ultimately increase malaria risk in some places relative to an alternative future, but might also increase risk in the present day.
“The potential for geoengineering to reduce risks from climate change remains poorly understood, and it could introduce a range of new risks to people and ecosystems,” says Trisos.
Carlson says that one of the most surprising findings was the scale of potential trade-offs between regions. For example, in both scenarios, the authors found that geoengineering might substantially reduce malaria risk in the Indian subcontinent even compared to the present day. However, that protective effect would be offset with an increase in risk in southeast Asia. For decision-makers, this might complicate the geopolitical reality of climate intervention.
“We’re so early in this process that the conversation is still about increasing Global South leadership in geoengineering research. Our study highlights that the frontlines of climate injustice aren’t one monolithic bloc, especially when it comes to health,” says Carlson.
Original Article: Geoengineering Could Return Risk of Malaria for One Billion People
More from: Georgetown University Medical Center | University of Cape Town | University of Maryland College Park | International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research Bangladesh | University of Florida | Cologne University of Applied Sciences | Rutgers University
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Geoengineering and infectious diseases
- Could Cooling the Planet Through Geoengineering Lead to More Disease Outbreaks?
In a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, an international team of researchers found that while geoengineering ... the parasitic disease malaria to run amok ...
- Geoengineering could return risk of malaria for one billion people
This is the first assessment of how geoengineering the climate could impact the burden of infectious diseases. The study focuses on solar radiation management (SRM), an intervention that ...
- Study shows geoengineeering could increase infectious disease burden in the Global South
Trisos adds: “These scenarios illustrate that solar geoengineering could have adverse impacts on health in cases where the burden of infectious diseases does not strictly increase with warming ...
- Using geoengineering to slow global heating risks malaria rise, say scientists
Technique of reflecting sunlight back into space found to be likely to cause increase in population of disease-carrying mosquitos ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Geoengineering and infectious diseases
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Geoengineering and health
- Beware malaria risk from efforts to cool the planet
“Without specific research”, the authors wrote in Nature Communications, acknowledging the uncertainty around their findings, “assumptions that solar geoengineering’s health impacts would be ...
- Mitigating the risk of geoengineering
One drastic idea is solar geoengineering — injecting light-reflecting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere to cool the planet. Researchers know that large amounts of aerosols can significantly cool ...
- Solar geoengineering to cool the planet: Not if, but when
Controlling the world’s changing climate with the use of geoengineering is thought to be fraught with risks. Imagine a rogue actor taking control of the climate, impacting the weather ...
- Geoengineering for Climate Safety Might be Risky for Malaria
Geoengineering the climate would have massive repercussions for the health of billions of people at risk of malaria who live in tropical countries, according to a new finding by scientists at ...
- Solar geoengineering predicted to shift malaria risk in tropics
A study, one of the first to examine how “geoengineering” techniques might affect health, found that an artificial planetary sunshade could make the deadly mosquito-borne disease spread more ...