Linda's Blog

Fevered: How a Hotter Planet Will Harm Our Health and How We Can Save Ourselves

My new book, “Fevered,” will be here by summer. Here’s the synopsis:

A timely and groundbreaking look at the profound impact global warming will have on human health—and what we can do about it

Beyond images of emaciated polar bears and drought-cracked lakes, there remains a major part of climate change’s impact that the media has neglected—how our health will suffer from higher temperatures and extreme weather. From spiraling rates of asthma and allergies, spikes in heatstroke-related deaths and growing swarms of invasive insects carrying fatal illnesses like dengue hemorrhagic fever and West Nile to increases in heart and lung diseases, cancer, depression and even dementia, the effect of rising temperatures on human health will be far reaching, and is more imminent than we think.  Growing scientific evidence shows climate change-induced health crises and the rising tide of natural disasters—hurricanes, floods, droughts—will strain the healthcare system beyond what it can support and shorten our life spans.

Award-winning journalist Linda Marsa blends compelling narrative with cutting-edge science to explore the changes in Earth’s increasingly fragile support system and provide a blueprint—a “medical Manhattan Project”—detailing what we need to do to protect ourselves from this oncoming medical meltdown. In the awareness-raising tradition of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Marsa boldly sounds the alarm on a subject that has been largely ignored by governments and policy makers, and persuasively argues why preparedness for the health effects of climate change is the most critical issue affecting our very survival in the coming century.

Stay tuned… Linda Marsa’s book “Fevered: How a Hotter Planet Will Harm Our Health and How We Can Save Ourselves” will be available soon for preorder. Publisher: Rodale

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  1. Posted August 1, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Before you ascribe the “plague” that afflicted the native Americans in Mexico to an emergent “Hemorrhagic Fever” you may want to read more about what Small Pox can do in it’s most virulent form:
    The following is the description copied and pasted from Wikipedia:

    Hemorrhagic smallpox is a severe form that is accompanied by extensive bleeding into the skin, mucous membranes, and gastrointestinal tract. This form develops in approximately 2% of infections and occurred mostly in adults.[20] In hemorrhagic smallpox the skin does not blister, but remains smooth. Instead, bleeding occurs under the skin, making it look charred and black,[20] hence this form of the disease is also known as black pox.[25]

    In the early, or fulminating form, hemorrhaging appears on the second or third day as sub-conjunctival bleeding turns the whites of the eyes deep red. Hemorrhagic smallpox also produces a dusky erythema, petechiae, and hemorrhages in the spleen, kidney, serosa, muscle, and, rarely, the epicardium, liver, testes, ovaries and bladder. Death often occurs suddenly between the fifth and seventh days of illness, when only a few insignificant skin lesions are present. A later form of the disease occurs in patients who survive for 8–10 days. The hemorrhages appear in the early eruptive period, and the rash is flat and does not progress beyond the vesicular stage.[20] Patients in the early stage of disease show a decrease in coagulation factors (e.g. platelets, prothrombin, and globulin) and an increase in circulating antithrombin. Patients in the late stage have significant thrombocytopenia; however, deficiency of coagulation factors is less severe. Some in the late stage also show increased antithrombin.[7] This form of smallpox occurs in anywhere from 3 to 25% of fatal cases depending on the virulence of the smallpox strain.[22] Hemorrhagic smallpox is usually fatal.[20]”

    That sounds a lot like the description of the “Plague” as described by the Priests in Mexico as described in your blog and by the Epidemiologist who you are quoting.
    I am very surprised that he didn’t make that connection.
    The mistakes of the past are doomed to be repeated–someone famous said that in the past.
    Dr. H.

    • Posted August 1, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your very thoughtful posts. Obviously, I can’t get into all the nuances in a 750 word blog entry. But Dr. Acuna-Soto–who is also an MD as well as a PhD–did consider all of the questions you’re asking. I had to simplify it a great deal. And he also looked at why this didn’t kill the Europeans. The short answer was they were better nourished and had a higher standard of living and weren’t as susceptible to these diseases.

      I’d direct you to his studies, which are referenced on the PLOS site. You might find more answers there. But thanks again for your thoughtful and well considered comments.

  2. Posted August 1, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    A follow-up question for you.
    If the epidemics were caused by a non-European Hemorrhagic Fever, WHY DIDN”T THE CONQUISTIDORES AND PRIESTS DIE AS WELL?
    If this was an emergent disease anyone who had close contact would have been infected and become ill.
    The fact that the Europeans did not is evidence that they brought the disease with them.
    The statistics quoted in the Wikipedia article are from the 19th and 20th Centuries. In the 1500-1600′s the percentage of individuals who developed Hemorrhagic Small Pox would have been far higher, especially in a malnourished and non-immune population suffering from drought.
    Small Pox is very transmissible from dried crusts from sores for weeks to months after an infection.
    A poor population trying to survive and reusing clothing, bedding, housing and even eating implements would spread such an infection very rapidly after the first case or two became infectious. It would spread even faster after a death as usable objects are recycled by others.
    Dr. H.

  3. Posted August 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I’d have to agree with the other two commenters. You’re overstating the case, at the least.

    I don’t call 100 percent BS, but I call “problems galore.” I believe in the reality of climate change, but we don’t need ppl making unsubstantiated apocalyptic claims about the effects of climate change.

    As for nourishment level, at least before the collapse of the Aztec Empire, the average Indian peasant was as well nourished as the Spanish foot soldier.

    And, phrases like “compelling narrative” and ” has been largely ignored by governments and policy makers” … make me leery of an oversell.

    • Posted August 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Hi: Thanks for your interest. I stand by the science. If anything, I downplayed greatly what scientists know to be true because I don’t want to panic people. There’s a front page story in today’s LA Times on the fallout from heat waves and how hotter temperatures will increase violence, which is based on UC Berkeley research. I interviewed the lead author, Marshall Burke, for my book. Perhaps you might want to read the book, which all reviewers thus far have credited as a thoughtful and careful analysis, before making these judgments. Thanks for your time.

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