Reindeer, ticks and climate change

Researchers have found that climate change causes more ticks, which make reindeer sick. But how much of this is actually true? Not a lot, for it’s mainly assumptions.

“The leap is due to warmer weather” Which warmer weather? The weather of this year, or the weather of those icy cold winters the northern hemisphere has had in the last couple of years? Warmer weather causes more bugs and other small animals, but that’s a normal phenomenon and probably not good or bad. It’s just how nature does things and I suppose you can say that nature is always right. So a rise in these small animals is probably a good thing.

5225586-3x2-340x227“carries a risk of introducing infectious diseases to reindeer populations, other animals, and humans.” Do ticks spread disease? That’s an interesting question, but one that doesn’t have a scientific answer. Yes, ticks are blamed for e.g. Lyme’s disease, but is that true? Then why did this disease show up out of the blue? Ticks are not new, so why didn’t this disease exist before? It just doesn’t add up.

Ticks are part of nature and have a place there, just like everything else. It’s only when humans interfere with nature that things can go wrong. But a warmer winter has nothing to do with human actions, so there doesn’t seem to be a reason to worry.

“researchers had already documented infectious diseases present in reindeers in the US and Scotland.” I am really curious what these infectious diseases are. Loads of things are labeled “infectious disease”, but at closer inspection they are nothing like that. The simple fact that diseases often happen in clusters doesn’t mean they are infectious. Food poisoning often happens to groups of people, but it’s not like they spread it to each other. Neither does poisoning by e.g. industrial waste or pesticides. So I would like to see some proof that these reindeer actually have infectious diseases.

index“We must learn more about the disease, how much warmer it has to be in an area before we get a real elevation of the risk situation,” Professor Albihn, you make a few assumptions here. First you assume that these reindeer have an infectious disease. Then you assume that it’s spread by ticks. Then you assume that warmer weather has something to do with it. And then you assume that this is related to climate change. Can you come with some proof, please?

“Reindeers are more susceptible to climate change as they find it hard to adapt to changing environments compared to other animals.” Nope, reindeer don’t care about climate change, because they are not as dumb and gullible as humans. And all animals can adjust to normal changes in their environment. Again: it’s only when humans destroy habitats that animals get in trouble. No animal would have become extinct if it weren’t for direct human actions.

“stressed animals were also more vulnerable to infections” If it were that easy no animal would still be alive. For there is always stress. The stress of finding enough food, the stress of caring for your little ones, the stress of protecting yourself and your children against predators (I’m not sure if reindeer have any predators beside humans, but it’s a general point). And there are loads of insects and such around that could make anyone sick. If stress would make a reindeer vulnerable for ticks it would be vulnerable for anything and it would die immediately.

“Associate Professor Albihn is part of a five-year international study focusing on climate change and the spread of infectious diseases between humans and animals.” image-reindeer-lapland-finland-717x600And there is the explanation for this nonsense. She gets paid for the study and needs to come up with results. For a scientist who says “we have studied it and there is no problem” will have trouble getting funds for a next study. The way the study is described already says that there is climate change and that this causes infectious diseases to spread. There is no room whatsoever for a negative result.

“preventative measures could be developed.” That sounds like a very bad idea. Humans have done enough damage to nature and any more interference will just make things worse. Leave the reindeer in peace and stop destroying their habitat and they will be fine. But there’s no money in doing nothing. Imagine that the professor would give a lecture at the conference that would say “we have studied the situation and came to the conclusion that we simply should do nothing”. That’s not what she gets paid for. And so people in Hobart will be told what to do about ticks in reindeer. Can you think of anything more irrelevant?

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