Azara Blog: Hotter summers will allegedly cause health problems in Britain

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Date published: 2006/01/04

The BBC says:

Britain could see a dramatic increase in food poisoning cases and waterborne disease as the warmer, wetter weather linked to climate change takes hold.

Hotter summers could lead to more salmonella cases as people opt for more barbecues but leave food out of the fridge, Professor Paul Hunter warned.

Heavy rain may also lead to more cases of diarrhoea-inducing cryptosporidium.

The University of East Anglia expert said Britain may also see some malaria cases - but is likely to cope.

This is because unlike most areas of the world badly affected by the disease, Britain has a public health system which could tackle any outbreaks, he said.

Professor Hunter said: "It's fairly accepted that most of the changes are going to be around hotter summers and more frequency heavy rainfall.

"We already know that food poisoning is related to temperature. This is because if you leave food outside the fridge at warm temperatures germs grow."

If people did not change their behaviour, and continued to leave food out at the hotter "ambient temperatures", food poisoning was likely to cases were likely to increase, he said.

"There's an interesting area around climate that's how is it going to impact on human behaviour - people have more barbecues when it's hot."

Poorly cooked meat on home barbecues has long been associated with food poisoning.

Professor Hunter also warned that heavy downpours could lead to an increase in outbreaks of the water-borne bug cryptosporidium which causes diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach cramps.

This was especially likely in the "periphery of water supply", such as in farms and holiday cottages, where water facilities were not supplied from the main network," he said.

"There's still an unbelievably high proportion of people that drink private water supplies.

"There's evidence to show that these particular supplies are very susceptible to heavy rainfalls."

He also warned that people swimming in the sea could be more likely to suffer from diarrhoea as recreational water supply becomes increasingly affected.

This was likely to be through muck being washed off fields, onto roads, into rivers and into the sea, rather than by the sewage that has previously caused problems.

Professor Hunter also warned that higher temperatures may lead to a few cases of malaria before the end of the century.

But he said that unless the UK suffered a severe economic crisis, the public health system would be likely to cope.

Isn't it amazing that almost everything written about climate change (certainly that makes it onto the BBC website) is about how it's going to make everything worse, never anything better. Well, the media of course loves "end of the world" stories, since that makes for a better read. And what a great slogan for so-called environmentalists: "stop driving and flying now or in future get sick from all those barbecues you'll have in the wonderful British summer". Ok, maybe people should be thinking about future trends (and evidently some people have nothing better to do with their lives), but this particular variant is veering towards the silly. Most countries of the world have hotter summers than in Britain and unbelievably most of them cope.

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