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Friday February 16, 2007

Global warming spells rise in tropical diseases


PUTRAJAYA: Tropical diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, jaundice and encephalitis will most likely be on the rise due to global warming, as mosquitoes thrive on such climatic conditions. 

Global warming would increase the temperature of areas where mosquitoes could not live previously and infect more people with diseases, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said. 

Studies on global warming had revealed this, he said, adding that respiratory ailments and allergies due to increased heat, air pollutants, spore and dust could also be expected to rise. 

“Currently, about 45% of the global population live in high-risk areas, and with the increasing temperature and release of greenhouse gases, the figure may increase to 60%,” he said in his speech read by ministry secretary-general Datuk Suboh Mohd Yassin at the “Global Warming Impact on Drainage Strategies In Malaysia Forum” yesterday. 

Azmi said the studies also showed that the temperature in Malaysia would rise between 0.6°C and 4.5°C while the density of the greenhouse gases would double by the year 2060.  

A 1,200sq km area of Malaysia’s coastline would be under water if early measures were not taken to address the effects of global warming, he added. 

“The increase in sea level will create giant waves that can destroy mangrove swamps as well as flora and fauna,” he said. 

The increase in temperature and drop in rainfall by 10% will reduce water availability by between 13% and 53% during a drought, he said.  

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