September 16, 2019
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 In Climate Change and Infectious Disease

Country: Colombia
Delegate Name: Aayush Sule

World Health Organization
Climate Change and Infectious Disease
Republic of Colombia
Aayush Sule
Forest Hills Eastern High School

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, climate change is a change in the contents of the global atmosphere caused by human activities over time. An assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that the last four decades have been the warmest decades since 1850. In short, climate change, along with average global temperature, has been rising over the last few dozen decades. Carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for 80% of global warming. According to the IPCC, 89% of global CO2 emissions come from fossil fuels and their related industries. If you do the math, that means that approximately 71% of all global warming and climate change is a direct or indirect result of burning fossil fuels. The United States National Center for Science Education states that various effects of this trend include the changing of annual amounts of precipitation, the melting of polar ice caps, and the rising of sea levels, to name a few. On top of this, climate change disrupts weather patterns, leading to the contamination of water supplies as well as unpredictable water availability in rural communities. A lesser-known, but possibly more dangerous effect of climate change is its potential to contribute to the spread of infectious diseases in the future. As stated by the World Health Organization, an infectious disease is a disease that is generally considered communicable or transmissible. As per the United Nations, rising temperatures caused by climate change can idealize conditions for disease-spreading creatures such as mosquitoes, and could even cause long-dormant diseases frozen in the arctic permafrost to be revived. The rise of these diseases would subsequently overwhelm global health infrastructure. While this is not a threat as of now, it could be a serious one in the future. Therefore, it is imperative that the United Nations should develop a plan to stop or at least slow the rate of climate change. It is not enough to wait until the temperature rises even more – this issue needs immediate attention. If we wait until infectious diseases’ spreads are heightened by rising temperatures and dormant diseases escape from the arctic permafrost, coming to a solution then will prove difficult.

Colombia is a country that understands all of the risks of climate change. The majority of Colombians live in cities located in the Andean Mountain range and the Caribbean coast. In the mountain cities, water shortages are common; climate change would only worsen this situation with added unreliability of water sources. The cities and communities on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts would also be devastated by rising sea levels caused by climate change. These symptoms of climate change would force many people to migrate to other regions, furthering poverty. Additionally, Colombia’s vital agriculture industry would be greatly harmed by the changing amounts of rainfall climate change can cause. Although our healthcare is ranked 22nd in the world by the World Health Organization, Colombian hospitals and clinics would undoubtedly feel the strains of any infectious diseases enhanced by rising temperatures. To combat climate change and prevent these future scenarios from happening, the Republic of Colombia has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 51% in 2030. Additionally, Colombia has an initiative in place to plant 180 million trees by 2022 in order to help reach net-zero deforestation by 2030. The Republic of Colombia has signed the Lecitia pact with various South American countries to preserve the Amazon rainforest. Colombia has also signed the Paris Agreement. In addition, Colombia is making transportation carbon neutral through various means. For example, Colombia is looking into electrifying our bus fleet instead of having them run on oil. Colombia’s Active Transport and Travel Demand Management program has a goal of having bicycles account for more than 5% of all trips made in the Republic of Colombia. Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, already has 13% of all trips made by bicycle. Furthermore, Colombia is the second country in the world to cut back on black carbon pollution, also known as soot. The Republic of Colombia has taken various other measures to decelerate climate change and its symptoms. However, Colombia alone cannot solve this problem; it requires extensive international cooperation.

Because the majority of climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, Colombia believes that the most effective way to solve climate change is to eliminate fossil fuels and replace them with nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is scalable and can produce large amounts of energy from a very small footprint. Additionally, new designs for nuclear reactors ensure more affordability, safety, and less pollution than the previous generations of reactors. The Republic of Colombia proposes that to cross the money and technology hurdle, various countries such as the United States and China, who are experienced in dealing with nuclear power, could give money to developing nations to fund nuclear energy expeditions and train foreign nuclear engineers. To ensure that countries whose economies rely on oil and fossil fuels don’t have their economies crumble, all laborers who currently work in the fossil fuel industry should be transferred to the nuclear industry. Colombia believes that it is not enough to wait until the temperature rises even more and attack the symptoms of climate change later – this issue needs immediate attention. If we wait until infectious diseases’ spreads are heightened by rising temperatures and dormant diseases escape from the arctic permafrost, coming to a solution then will prove difficult.

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