By JOSHUA CAPLAN
Former Vice President Al Gore said Tuesday that burning fossil fuels should be understood as a “pre-condition” for higher death rates from the Chinese coronavirus.
A transcript is as follows:
STEPHEN ADLER: When we were talking about Zika way back, you saw a cause and effect relationship with the warming climate and the changes in climate and how it affected mosquitoes. Do you see cause and effect relationship between the change in climate and extreme weather and other aspect of climate change and the advent of the virus?
AL GORE: Well, yes. I’d mention two important ones. First of all, we now know from multiple studies that the burning of fossil fuels should be understood as a precondition for higher death rates from COVID-19. A massive study of 324 cities in China showed a significant linear increase in infections and serious infections related to cities and communities where there is more particulate pollution in the air. Of course, the principal source of that is burning fossil fuels.
We are encountering, now, five new infectious diseases every year. And three quarters of them are called zoonotic diseases, which I now know it means they come from animals to humans. And of course, that’s where SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, came from, from bats in a region near Wuhan. And that’s happening because we are steadily encroaching more into the wild, previously wild areas of the world where there are literally millions of viruses that human beings have not encountered.
Now, the consequences of the climate crisis in disrupting the water cycle, creating storms like the one headed to the U.S. coast right now, creating the fires like those that are raging in California and Nevada right now and Oregon, actually shift the balance along — mainly, with the higher temperatures — in the relationship between humans and microbes, and they shift the balance in favor of microbes. We’re seeing tropical diseases move pole-ward, north in the northern hemisphere, south in the southern hemisphere, and air travel has a lot to do with that. But the places where they take root and become endemic is very much affected by the changed climate conditions where these viruses travel.