Deadly warning as tropics advance

CANBERRA – A widening of the world’s tropical belt that will turn Sydney’s climate into that of Brisbane will hammer Aboriginal communities and the poor nations of Asia and the Pacific, new studies warn.

The studies say there is already evidence that the tropics are moving further north and south in a trend that will also extend the range of sub-tropical climates, drying out present fertile regions with devastating effects on health and food production.

James Cook University Vice-Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said tropical climates had already moved more than six degrees of latitude beyond the traditional confines of the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and were continuing to expand.

About half the world’s population, including most of its poorest and least educated, lived in tropical climates that were also home to 80 per cent of plant and animal species, and which generated about 20 per cent of the planet’s wealth.

“It is in the tropics where we have new and dangerous diseases evolving and spreading,” Harding said.

“According to genetic studies, about 80 per cent of infectious diseases arise in the tropics, with many new illnesses resulting from viruses that jump from animals to humans.


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