Home > NewsRelease > COVID-19 and Climate Change
COVID-19 and Climate Change
Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP --  The Herman Group Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP -- The Herman Group
Austin, TX
Thursday, January 21, 2021


The Herman Trend Alert

January 20, 2021

COVID-19 and Climate Change

Right now, though Texas is not in lockdown, the Pandemic rages on. On the advice of my doctor, I am minimizing my local automobile travel. And I strongly suspect that I am not alone. Though the climate has benefitted greatly from the reduction in carbon emissions, climate change has not gone away. Based on an article from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, I will look at the relationship between the virus and the climate.

Climate and the Transmission of the Virus

There are many reasons to take action to improve our health and reduce risks for infectious disease emergence and spread; addressing climate change is one of them. Something I never thought about that the article addresses is that in response to the warming climate, animals of all sizes are moving towards the poles for comfort. As they migrate, they are encountering other animals they would not normally meet. Those chance meetings create opportunities for pathogens to jump to new hosts. As long as humans continue to eat the meat of these new hosts, the human beings are vulnerable to infection.

The Triggers of Climate Change Also Increase the Danger of Pandemics

Think about it. Worldwide, the clearing of trees to make space for agriculture is the largest cause of habitat loss. This loss of habitat forces animals to migrate and potentially contact other animals or people and share germs. Giant livestock farms also create a source for spillover of infections from animals to people. If we could find a way to decrease the demand for animal meat and/or use more sustainable animal husbandry practices, we could reduce emerging infectious disease risk and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Air Pollution increases the Risk of Getting Coronavirus

Much of the Harvard article was the citing of cases about how increased air pollution directly or indirectly multiplies the risk for becoming ill with Coronavirus. Recent research from colleagues at Harvard Chan found that people who live in area with poor air quality are more likely to die from COVID-19---even when taking into account other factors like pre-existing medical conditions, socioeconomic status, and access to healthcare. This finding is consistent with prior research: people who are exposed to more air pollution and who smoke respond worse to respiratory infections than those who are breathing cleaner air and who do not smoke. Moreover long-term exposure to air pollution leads to a significant increase in the COVID-19 death rate. As if that were not enough, another cited case details that unhealthier air quality in China may increase transmission of infections that cause influenza-like illnesses as well.

Climate Change Contributes to the Spread of Other Infectious Disease

We know that climate change has already made conditions more favorable to the spread of some other infectious diseases; these diseases include Lyme disease, some nasty waterborne diseases, and mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and dengue fever. Changing rainfall and temperature patterns  affect when and where the infections appear. The researchers believe that we should do whatever we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees to help limit the risk of infectious diseases---a goal which now seems like a stretch.

Emerging Infectious Diseases are Rising

Not only do we have massive numbers of people in cities where diseases are easily transmitted by sneezing or coughing, but we humans also have the ability to travel around the world in less than a day and share infectious germs along the way.

Actions We Must Take to Prevent Future Outbreaks

There are many smart investments we can make to avert outbreaks. More funding for needed research, early response to outbreaks, and supplies for testing are all important uses for funding. Plus, we must increase efforts to control the illegal wildlife trade. The researchers also believe we must take climate action to prevent the next pandemic by preventing deforestation connected with biodiversity loss as well as slowing animal migrations that increase risk of infectious disease spread. In West Africa, the bats which carried Ebola had been forced to move into new habitats because the forests they had inhabited had been cut down to grow palm oil trees. In addition, we need to rethink our agricultural practices, including those that involve raising millions of animals in close quarters. This proximity encourages transmissions between animals and spillover into human populations.

An Ounce of Prevention. . .

Every year in the United States, before COVID-19, we spent over USD $3 trillion on healthcare. Furthermore, by some estimates, more than half the deaths in the country are preventable, if we addressed the issues of pollution, diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits like smoking. The article suggests we could save a lot of money by simply by "reducing air pollution, eating less meat, and building exercise into our day." Then the resulting savings could be invested in preventing climate change, investing in education, and paying fair wages.

Climate Inaction is Expensive

Looking at the issue from the point of view of finances, air pollution is a drag on economic growth and solutions to address it have been enormously cost-effective. In 2011, a study by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that examined the costs and benefits of the Clean Air Act found that every $1 invested to reduce air pollution returned up to $30 in benefits. Wow! There is only one possible conclusion to draw: we cannot afford inaction.

Special thanks to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for this fascinating article. To read the entire article click here.

Next Week's Herman Trend Alert: Investing in Longevity

Next week, I am taking a break from the Pandemic to address one of my favorite topics: Longevity. There is new information about insights and proven strategies that I cannot wait to share.



The opening of Ingomu's second BeMoreDays will feature an interview with me on The Future of Health and Wellness. Not only will I look at the industry trends, but also how the Pandemic has and will affect the field. And it is FREE! To register, visit BeMoreDays.


News Media Interview Contact
Name: Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP
Title: Certified Speaking Professional and Management Consultant
Group: The Herman Group
Dateline: Austin, TX United States
Direct Phone: 336-210-3548
Main Phone: 800-227-3566
Cell Phone: 336-210-3548
Jump To Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP --  The Herman Group Jump To Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP -- The Herman Group
Contact Click to Contact
Other experts on these topics