Can an arachnid reverse climate change?

Lone-star-tick-stages-cdc

It has been incredibly difficult to do anything about climate change, in large part because no one wants to give anything up or pay more for anything. However, Americans may soon not have a choice in the matter thanks to a disease carrying tick.

Most of efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses has, for obvious reasons, focused on fossil fuels. Agriculture, specifically livestock, is another major contributor to climate change. According to a 2009 study from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, meat production is responsible for 14.5 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

From Slate:
"The researchers predicted that universal veganism would reduce agriculture-related carbon emissions by 17 percent, methane emissions by 24 percent, and nitrous oxide emissions by 21 percent by 2050. Universal vegetarianism would result in similarly impressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. What’s more, the Dutch researchers found that worldwide vegetarianism or veganism would achieve these gains at a much lower cost than a purely energy-focused intervention involving carbon taxes and renewable energy technology. The upshot: Universal eschewal of meat wouldn’t single-handedly stave off global warming, but it would go a long way toward mitigating climate change."

But what would cause America to give up meat? How about a severe allergy to it? According to Popular Science, the lone star appears to be carrying a disease which causes extremely severe allergic reactions to the sugars found in meat.

Ironically, as the climate warms the tick is spreading from its natural habitat in the Southeastern United States to areas farther north and west. The tick has been spotted throughout most of the New England states and is moving into the Midwestern states. As the ticks habitat has increased, so have occurrences of the allergy.

From PopSci:
"And as the tick spreads, more and more cases of meat allergies are being reported. In one area of Long Island, New York, for example, one doctor we spoke with has seen and increase of 200 cases in the past three years—up from practically zero in 2011."

Lone-star-tick-map-cdc

While the Lone Star Tick would have to spread worldwide to achieve the full effect and achieve a 14.5 percent decrease in greenhouse gasses, the United States isn't a bad place to start. As of 2012, the US was 2nd only to China in the production of greenhouse gasses and 2nd only to Luxembourg in meat consumption per capita.  The animal's next natural stop would be Canada, 8th in the world in greenhouse gas emissions and 9th in the world in meat consumption.

Obviously this is a bit of a Clockwork Orange solution. No one really wants severe allergies to anything or would wish such allergies on others. However, it does represent a potentially huge decrease in greenhouse gasses - possibly enough of a reduction to reign in the effects of climate change and it's a solution where politics are irrelevant. The tick does not care which government is in power or how people vote.
Previous
Next Post »