November 15, 2023
My gentle readers know well my panic about climate change. There are 1,001 reasons why we should be gravely concerned that the planet is heating up.
Make that 1,002.
Yesterday’s Washington Post contained a report on a terrifying flesh-eating fungus called Valley fever, which is becoming more prevalent in the desert southwest. Valley fever, which is caused by inhaling the coccidiodes spore, has been a part of that region for some time. But the threat of the disease is growing: cases have roughly quadrupled in the last two decades.
The fungus, it appears, thrives in dry soils, rides on plumes of dust, and booms after periods of extreme drought — the exact cycles that have grown more intense and widespread across the American West as the climate heats up.
Currently, the disease affects tens of thousands of people every year, and kills about as many people each year as does West Nile Virus, which is the leading mosquito-borne cause of death in the continental U.S.
And those numbers don’t appear to be getting better any time soon.