I read with interest last week’s article entitled “Ticks Can Carry Many Diseases” highlighting the latest study by the Centers for Disease Control. As someone diagnosed with Lyme Disease, (but, fortunately, not exhibiting symptoms), I very much appreciate Scotland County Health Department’s advisory to residents. I’m wondering how many of your readers, like me, have experienced a marked increase in ticks, like never before, as they’ve walked their fields in the past few weeks.
The CDC study shows that overall the number of tick-borne disease cases tripled in the US between 2004 and 2016, and Missouri is now in the second highest tier of reported cases.
In the first sentence of the article, the Health Department’s advisory connects “milder winters and warm spring temperatures” to the potential for increased ticks and tick-borne disease. While certainly we had a colder than usual April, overall temperature data for the past twenty years supports that there is a warming trend. And that warming trend can have a wide range of impacts, including the potential for increased tick and mosquito-borne disease.
I use the word “potential,” reflecting the tone of the County Health Department’s advisory: warmer temperatures “could result in higher numbers of ticks and tick-borne disease.” This leads me to the concept of insurance and, strangely enough, to President Ronald Reagan.
Many of us have homeowner’s insurance, crop insurance, and health insurance because we’re aware of the potential for bad things to happen. We can’t prove it for sure, but the risk is great enough that we think it prudent to protect ourselves just in case. In 1989, there was concern about the depletion of the ozone layer and the potential for human health risks, impacts on crops, and aquatic systems. The science indicated a problem, and there were also those who were in doubt. President Ronald Reagan and then Secretary of State George Schultz decided to “take out an insurance policy” by signing the Montreal Protocol Treaty – just in case. The Treaty turned out to be a good investment, just in the nick of time.
George Schultz, now a widely-respected Republican Elder Statesman, is saying the same thing about the warming trends cited by our County Health Department. Schultz proposes a market-based solution called Carbon Fee and Dividend – putting a fee on carbon-based fuels and returning all revenue to households as a monthly dividend. He sees this as an insurance policy against the potential effects of milder winters and warm spring temperatures, and overall warming trends.
These potential effects go way beyond ticks and mosquitoes. But I wonder if these tiny critters are what ultimately bite us in the you-know-what to lead us to acknowledge the risk and take out an insurance policy.