It’s been described as the first climate change disease, becoming endemic in areas which formerly couldn’t sustain its vector. A warmer climate means it is spreading rapidly, not least in the UK. Lyme disease is spread by ticks and their habitat is growing. In the UK recent figures show that reported cases of Lyme disease have grown ten-fold in the last ten years. Lyme disease can cause all sorts of problems, up to and including heart failure. Currently there is no vaccine. Not all ticks carry the disease, but it is only a matter of time before more do. An excellent report on this growing threat - well worth reading - is to be found here. If you do read the report, you will see that some experts, if not using the word ‘epidemic’ now clearly believe that’s where we’re headed. So surely anticipating something as bad as this just round the corner what is our government doing? It’s commissioned a review which it hopes will be available in June. In 2016 just 22 MPs signed a parliamentary Early Day Motion calling for serious action. And there’s not much else. There used to be a vaccine, but it was ditched after the anti-vaccine hysteria in the wake of the MMR scandal. Areas – such as the North York Moors – with high but as yet largely uninfected tick populations must be seen as the future risk areas, although cases have been reported even from cities, London included. We don’t have to wait until the end of the century to see the impacts of climate change. They’re happening now and this is one of them. I shall still go out for my country walks, but I won’t be wearing short trousers or short sleeved shirts again.
Another climate change story with an interesting twist: the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that fracking under somebody else’s property is trespass. So it looks like some U.S. citizens have more rights when it comes to fracking than we do. Our dear government changed the law to enable frackers to freely exploit whatever they can from underneath our properties.