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The Stockholm Paradigm

Climate Change and Emerging Disease

The contemporary crisis of emerging disease has been a century and a half in the making. Human, veterinary, and crop health practitioners convinced themselves that disease could be controlled by medicating the sick, vaccinating those at risk, and eradicating the parts of the biosphere responsible for disease transmission. Evolutionary biologists assured themselves that coevolution between pathogens and hosts provided a firewall against disease emergence in new hosts. Most climate scientists made no connection between climate changes and disease. None of these traditional perspectives anticipated the onslaught of emerging infectious diseases confronting humanity today.

As this book reveals, a new understanding of the evolution of pathogen-host systems, called the Stockholm Paradigm, explains what is happening. The planet is a minefield of pathogens with preexisting capacities to infect susceptible but unexposed hosts, needing only the opportunity for contact. Climate change has always been the major catalyst for such new opportunities, because it disrupts local ecosystem structure and allows pathogens and hosts to move. Once pathogens expand to new hosts, novel variants may emerge, each with new infection capacities. Mathematical models and real-world examples uniformly support these ideas. Emerging disease is thus one of the greatest climate change–related threats confronting humanity.

Even without deadly global catastrophes on the scale of the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic, emerging diseases cost humanity more than a trillion dollars per year in treatment and lost productivity. But while time is short, the danger is great, and we are largely unprepared, the Stockholm Paradigm offers hope for managing the crisis. By using the DAMA (document, assess, monitor, act) protocol, we can “anticipate to mitigate” emerging disease, buying time and saving money while we search for more effective ways to cope with this challenge.

400 pages | 35 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2019

Biological Sciences: Evolutionary Biology, Microbiology


"Presenting a new evolutionary explanation of the emerging disease crisis, The Stockholm Paradigm . . . pulls no punches. Climate change has opened Pandora's box of unknown pathogens that could have an untold impact on humanity. . . . Whether you are a health professional, ecologist, evolutionary biologist, historian, ecowarrior, extinction rebel, or member of the public, this book could not be timelier. It is a fascinating read for anyone interested in local, national, and global challenges. Greta Thunberg would be proud . . . as long as we do act now."

Joanne Cable | The Lancet Infectious Diseases

"The term "Stockholm paradigm" is here employed by the authors to define and describe specific climate change events triggering the emergence of human diseases. Following a vehement opening argument that humans will face a woeful situation by 2100 if global climate change is not curbed, they present cogent scientific evidence on how global climate change is affecting the evolution of organisms in ways that give rise to human diseases. Further, while avoiding sensationalism in their prognostications, the authors advance rational and realist proposals for resolving the emergence of disease within a landscape of global climate change. The overall argument is supported by current data, including case studies and primary references. Especially appropriate for public health and environmental science collections. Recommended."


"The authors of The Stockholm Paradigm have a wealth of expertise in evolutionary biology and parasitology, and their combined experience has been harnessed to provide an interesting perspective on climate change and emerging disease in this well-written and extensively referenced volume."

Conservation Biology

"The book offers a new understanding of pathogen-host relationships that explains our current onslaught of emerging infectious diseases. . . . The authors of The Stockholm Paradigm insist the hunt for potential disease-causing organisms must be proactive and ongoing in a biosphere doubly animated by climate change and globalization. 'As terrible as the economic consequences of Covid-19 are becoming, this was merely a warning shot across the bow,' Brooks says. 'The lesson of Covid has less to do with the disease per se than it does with the recognition that our enormous, powerful, global, technological world is extraordinarily fragile.'"

Carson Vaughan | Ensia

"The Stockholm Paradigm—authored by three renowned experts in parasitology and evolutionary biology—is perhaps one of the most important works of current science literature. Not quite a popular science book in the traditional sense, it seeks to reach the interested public as well as researchers and policymakers with its timely message."

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences

“The authors make a passionate case for the link between climate change and emerging infectious diseases. These are two of the biggest threats facing humanity and in combination the risks are escalated even further. Raising awareness of this combined threat is an original, timely, and vital contribution. I am not aware of another book on this topic that comes close to this in terms of the breadth and depth of its ambition.”

Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Development, University of Oxford

The Stockholm Paradigm provides a new perspective on how we should think about (and combat) emerging pathogens. The authors, all highly respected parasitologists, are well qualified to provide the historical context, broad synthesis, and contemporary urgency required for a shift in thinking, essentially away from reactive, for profit programs. A game changer for parasitology and public health efforts focused on emerging infectious diseases.”

Joseph A. Cook, Professor of Biology, Curator of the Division of Mammals at the Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico

“At first glance, The Stockholm Paradigm may seem to be just one more in a spate of books about human impacts on the environment. But in fact, it is a singular hybrid: a critical history of science, describing paths taken and not taken; a technical work of analysis and theoretical synthesis; an agenda for research and for policy; a critique of institutionalized science (and of scientists); and a confessional exploration of the interplay of inquiry with fear and hope. . . . It is a groundbreaking book with regard to both genre and substance. We do not expect reflection, much less despair, from scientists; ‘personal’ accounts are usually fluff. Will the book be read? As a hybrid, it will necessarily challenge readers used to familiar genres. I hope, however, that this mix of sophisticated theory and profound reflection will go far to set a paradigm of its own.”

American Scientist

Table of Contents

1: How Bad Is It, Anyway?
2: How Did We Get into This Mess?
3: Dawning Awareness
4: Back to the Future
5: Resolving the Parasite Paradox I: Taking Advantage of Opportunities
6: Resolving the Parasite Paradox II: Coping with Changing Opportunities
7: A Paradigm for Pathogens and Hosts
8: Emerging Diseases: The Cost of Human Evolution
9: Taking Action: Evolutionary Triage
10: Time to Own It: It’s Nobody’s Fault but Everyone’s to Blame

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