Stockholm Paradigm

For Daniel Brooks, the promise of an otherwise bright future is clouded by what he describes as an existential threat: the issues of climate change and disease crisis working in tandem.

Brooks is an adjunct research professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He will speak at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the University of Nebraska State Museum in Morrill Hall. Brooks’ presentation, titled “The Stockholm Paradigm: The Science Behind the Emerging Disease Crisis,” will cover his book on the same topic published this year. He said he has published more than 400 works about these issues over 25 years.

Scott Gardner, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences and curator at the University of Nebraska State Museum, said he invited Brooks to make his presentation because he is an alumnus of UNL and recently published a book on the subject. Gardner said he has known Brooks since 1983 when he became aware of Brooks’ work.

Brooks said the Stockholm Paradigm is a scientific breakthrough that shows a direct link between climate change and an emerging disease crisis. He said disruption is the key factor when looking at how climate change and the spread of disease are connected.

As the climate continues to change, Brooks said plants and animals carrying pathogens relocate to new environments that may not have been exposed to those pathogens before. He said this leads to the resurgence of old diseases in areas where they were previously thought to be eradicated.

“It may seem like a very complicated issue at first, but when you take a closer look, it makes more sense,” he said. “A colleague of mine said that the answer was so simple that we’ve missed it for 100 years.”

Brooks said people are not aware of the connection between climate change and disease on a fundamental level, which he discovered when he and his coauthors published “The Stockholm Paradigm.” He said the lack of awareness exists both in the public realm and the realm of policy makers. 

“Politicians have a two- to six-year planning horizon, and they don’t want to spend money on something that will not make them look heroic while they are in office,” Brooks said.

Brooks also said this legislative issue can be traced back to the voters not electing politicians and policies that will enact noticeable change, as well as not countering rampant corruption within government. However, he said, there are things people can do on a smaller scale to prevent disease locally, like checking stagnant water for mosquito larvae, ensuring the separation of domestic and wild animals and being watchful for ticks.

Overall, Brooks said he wants people to recognize that there is still time to take action, and that action must come from the public to the legislatures.

“We can’t afford to do one thing anymore,” he said. “There are things we can start doing; we don’t have to wait for the government. Communities can self organize, and we can keep pushing on the higher-ups.”