When climate-change scientists and diplomats met in Buenos Aires during 1998, they were greeted by news that mosquitoes carrying dengue fever had invaded more than a third of the homes in Argentina’s most populous province, with 14 million people. The aedes aegypti mosquito appeared in Argentina in 1986; within 12 years, it was found in 36 percent of homes in Buenos Aires province, according to Dr. Alfredo Seijo of the Hospital Munoz. “Aedes aegypti now exists from the south of the United States as far as the south of Buenos Aires province and this is obviously due to climatic changes which have taken place in Latin America over the past few years,” Seijo told a news conference organized by the World Wildlife Fund at the United Nations climate talks in Argentina (Webb 1998). Dengue, a common disease in tropical regions, is a prolonged, flu-like viral infection which can cause internal bleeding, fever, and sometimes death. Dengue, which is sometimes called “breakbone fever,” may be accompanied by headache, rash, and severe joint pain. The World Health Organization lists dengue fever as the tenth deadliest disease worldwide.
During 1995, an explosion of termites, mosquitoes, and cockroaches hit New Orleans, following an unprecedented five years without a killing frost. “Termites are everywhere. The city is totally, completely, inundated with them,” said Ed Bordees, a New Orleans health official, who added, “The number of mosquitoes laying eggs has increased tenfold” (Gelbspan, The Heat is On, 1997, 15). The situation in New Orleans was aggravated not only by unusual warmth, but also by above-average rainfall totaling about 80 inches the previous year. Some of the 200-year-old oaks along New Orleans’ St. Charles Avenue were found to have been eaten alive from the inside by billions of tiny, blind, Formosan termites. The same year, dengue fever spread from Mexico across the border into Texas for the first time since records have been kept. Dengue fever, like malaria, is carried by a mosquito that is limited by temperature. At the same time, Colombia was experiencing plagues of mosquitoes and outbreaks of the diseases