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The rich are not immune from climate change

The biggest obstacle to tackling runaway climate change is that while prevention involves the richest people in the richest countries giving up their unsustainable lifestyles, the impacts of climate change have been falling largely on the shoulders of the poorest people in the poorest countries.

Delegates at a two day World Health Organisation conference in Paris this week heard how this is about to change.  While the global elite can insulate themselves to some degree from the extreme weather events that we usually associate with climate change, they will have a harder time avoiding the spread of disease into areas of the world that lack immunity:

“Tropical disease vectors — for malaria, dengue and zika, to name a few — are expanding as the insects that carry them spread following warming climes.”

In nineteenth century Europe, the money that allowed the development of public health initiatives came from wealthy philanthropists who realised that the rich as well as the poor were susceptible to diseases like cholera, dysentery, smallpox and typhus.  It may be that when today’s global elites wake up to the realisation that they too are susceptible to a host of unpleasant tropical diseases, they may finally wake up to the urgency of our situation… but then again, probably not.

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