Why are red tides hitting Britain?

Warning: the map is grim. Click here to see a bigger version of the infographic.

This weekend, on the International Women’s Day, the hope of much-needed global change will likely be washed away in warm, heavy rains and strong winds of more than 100km/h (62mph) with the onset of La Niña.

Read more: La Niña a huge uncertainty for climate change: Here’s why

Why is this of great interest? Two words: “red tide” and “red tide” are painful ear infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Yes, the same disease that kills thousands of people every year on the British Isles. Thousands. In 2017, 1,598 Europeans died from skin and respiratory infections caused by red tide, while environmental experts continue to warn about yet another wave of the disease hitting the US this spring, potentially harming a million people.

The big picture: the world’s population is growing at around 1% a year, which means more people are likely to suffer outbreaks of infections related to red tide. Moreover, those outbreaks are starting to happen more often.

In 2017, an outbreak of red tide in the US’s Florida Gulf Coast affected 2,338 people. Meanwhile, Florida’s freshwater oyster beds were hit by red tide a year earlier, contaminating millions of pounds of shellfish and costing the state £20m. The first confirmed outbreak in Scotland was also in 2016, affecting two rivers in Aberdeenshire and killing 13 animals in a matter of days.

That said, the human population in Europe does not appear to be in great danger of getting badly infected by the disease. It is another story completely for the Americas and other parts of the world, where extreme weather conditions could kill tens of thousands this spring and that could drag on for months or years.

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