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Chris Ford: Ebola - one more sign of environmental catastrophe

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Chris Ford
Chris Ford

This week the world learned the link between the spread of Ebola and climate change.

In a speech earlier this week, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Dr. Margaret Chan connected the spread of Ebola, in part, to the dispersal of carrier animal populations (mainly bats) closer to populated areas as the result of land clearance by greed driven foreign corporations. Chan also said that future outbreaks of viruses, such as Ebola, could become more common as climate change intensifies.

This should give us all another incentive to pressure our government and other governments as well as multinational corporates to act on climate change.

The rise of virulent diseases, like Ebola, should signify to us that all life on this planet is precious. That all life on this planet (human, plant and animal) could be rendered extinct through the various side-effects of climate change of which highly contagious and deadly diseases are one.

Besides, these deadly diseases will most likely first strike (as they have in West Africa) in poorer, less developed nations with minimal public health infrastructure. Again, this raises the question of why should the over-consumption and over-production of wealthier, capitalist Western nations impact on the poorest, least wealthiest nations hardest? In other words, why should our Co2 emissions (from big emitters) wreak havoc with the lives of the poorest peoples on the planet?

This isn't fair and nor is this right.

Also we cannot forget that in our interconnected world, deadly disease can be spread quickly via cross-border travel. While Ebola has been well contained when discovered in Western patients, there is no guarantee that another more deadly, airborne virus could spread rapidly in the future - including within New Zealand. Therefore, we must not forget that climate change, both directly and indirectly, affects us all.

That's why the current Ebola crisis in West Africa should be treated as just one more warning sign that the planet is on the verge of environmentally-driven catastrophe. That's why I hope the next major climate change conference in Paris at this time next year will see wiser heads push back against the interests of corporate  capital in favour of the survival of life on this planet.



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