Geoengineering could put 1.0b people at risk of malaria: study

FE ONLINE REPORT | Thursday, 21 April 2022

Geoengineering the environment would have massive repercussions for the health of billions in tropical regions with malaria, said a new study published on Thursday.

Scientists from icddr,b and other international research institutions conducted the pioneering research to understand how solar radiation management (SRM) geoengineering could affect some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable regions.

In the study published on April 20, 2022 in Nature Communications (“Solar geoengineering could redistribute malaria risk in developing countries), researchers have conducted the first assessment of how geoengineering the climate could impact the burden of infectious diseases, read an icddr,b statement.

The study was led by Colin Carlson, an assistant research professor at the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center.

The study focuses on SRM, a hypothetical emergency intervention aimed at reducing the dangerous impacts of climate change. By injecting aerosols into the stratosphere that reflect incoming sunlight, some researchers have suggested that it may be possible to temporarily “pause” global warming.

Though SRM is often discussed as a way to reduce climate injustice, its potential impacts on health have barely been studied.

In the study, a team of eight researchers from the United States, Bangladesh, South Africa, and Germany used climate models to simulate what malaria transmission could look like in two future scenarios, with medium or high levels of global warming, with and without geoengineering.

Malaria specialist Mohammad Shafiul Alam, also a scientist at icddr,b said, “This is the first of its kind study that examined the likely impact of geoengineering techniques on vector-borne diseases. It revealed that if such techniques are implemented, it may cut both ways: some countries will benefit and other countries will suffer.”

Christopher Trisos, a senior researcher at the University of Cape Town said “The potential for geoengineering to reduce risks from climate change remains poorly understood, and it could introduce a range of new risks to people and ecosystems.”

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