The Unseen Impact of Climate Change on Global Health
Climate change is challenging all of us to find new ways to meet, adapt and mitigate the impact it is having on our planet. The effects are huge and many of them are yet to be discovered and understood. One of the major areas that has been a topic for debate is how climate change influences human health.
The Health Effects of Climate Change
The effects of climate change are already being felt by communities around the world, from increasingly frequent droughts and floods to more intense storms, heat waves and wildfires.
These changes in weather patterns can cause increased illness and death from heat stress, air pollution exposure and infectious disease spread.
Climate change also threatens our food supply: Rising temperatures can reduce crop yields; extreme weather events like droughts can wipe out entire seasons of crops.
And rising sea levels could contaminate aquifers that provide drinking water for millions of people around the globe.
Climate change is already having a significant impact on health and will continue to do so in the future.
What has been the effect of climate change where you live?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that approximately 74% of all deaths are due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), annually, that’s around 41 million people worldwide.
These include cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic respiratory conditions, which are linked to air pollution, water pollution, poor sanitation and hygiene, malnutrition, physical inactivity and tobacco use.
In addition, WHO estimates that about one-quarter of these deaths can be attributed to man-made environmental factors such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, water pollution and chemical exposures.
Climate change and health are intrinsically linked. For example, rising temperatures are associated with a greater likelihood of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other heat-related conditions.
Heat waves have also been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events, such as heart attacks and strokes.
Climate Change Might Be Affecting Your Health
As temperatures continue to rise and weather patterns become more extreme, the health effects of climate change and global warming become increasingly apparent.
From extreme heat waves to changes in the spread of infectious diseases, the health effects of climate change and global warming can be severe.
And if you’re living with a chronic illness, you may already be feeling some of those health effects.
Climate change has been linked to more intense storms, heat waves, wildfires, and droughts — all of which can have devastating effects on our health.
For example, warmer temperatures can lead to longer allergy seasons, more asthma attacks, and increased infections from mosquito-borne illnesses like the Zika virus or West Nile virus.
In some regions, heat waves are becoming more frequent and more intense because of global warming.
The number of days with high temperatures above 95°F has doubled in some places over the last 50 years, according to one study published in Nature Climate Change.
This results in more deaths and hospitalisations related to extreme heat.
Malaria is caused by parasites that are transmitted by mosquitoes, which thrive in warm climates and feed off people’s blood at night when they’re asleep.
As temperatures rise due to climate change, so does the range where these mosquitoes can survive and thrive, although other factors like development and land use also affect where mosquitoes can live.
Heat Stress: Is the Heat Getting To You?
Heat stress is one of the most immediate and direct impacts of climate change on human health.
Let’s face it extreme heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense, and they’re putting increased stress on vulnerable populations, particularly the elderly and children.
Heat stress can lead to serious health conditions such as heat stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease, as well as exacerbating existing conditions such as asthma.
The heat is getting to you. You feel tired and sluggish. You’re sweating more than usual, and your skin feels hot. You may even have a headache.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms during the summer months, you may be suffering from heat stress.
What is your worst experience with heat stress?
Heat stress occurs when the body overheats because it cannot cool itself down properly in hot temperatures.
And when the body is unable to cool itself down, it’s working harder than normal to keep its temperature stable at around 37°C.
This causes stress on the body’s organs and muscles which makes them work harder than normal to keep up with their usual functions.
If the body’s temperature continues to rise beyond what it can manage naturally, it will cause damage or death in extreme cases if left untreated.
The signs and symptoms of heat stress vary from person to person.
Symptoms may include:
- Swelling of the hands, feet, or ankles
- Fatigue or weakness
- Muscle cramps in the legs and abdomen
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
What You Should Know About Air Pollution
Air pollution is one of the most dangerous effects of climate change on human health.
Pollutants that are released into the atmosphere not only cause respiratory problems and heart diseases but have also been linked to cancer and birth defects.
In addition, air pollution can also increase the risk of stroke, diabetes, and cognitive decline. As the climate changes, air pollution will only become more of a health hazard.
Air pollution has been around for centuries. However, it seems like the only time you hear about air pollution is when there’s an enormous wildfire.
But we must understand what air pollution is (and isn’t) and how it affects us. Air pollution is caused by several things, but there are two main causes: natural and human.
Alternative Energy Can Replace Fossil Fuels
In the past decade, alternative energies have received more and more attention from governments and industries around the world. This trend has been driven by environmental policies, innovation in technologies, and improvements in production costs…read more
Natural causes include forest fires, dust storms and volcanic eruptions.
Human causes include burning coal or gasoline produce and deforestation.
For many people in the world air pollution is a serious problem. It causes health problems and can even lead to death.
Yet there are millions of people living in different parts of the world that are breathing toxic fumes as they do day-to-day tasks.
Some people react differently than others when exposed to different types of pollutants, but most symptoms include:
- Respiratory problems like asthma attacks or chronic bronchitis
- Chronic coughs or wheezing
- Fatigue or shortness of breath
- Sore throat or scratchy voice
Climate Change and Vector-Borne Diseases
Vector-borne diseases, such as Malaria and Zika, are becoming more common because of climate change.
Warmer temperatures increased flooding, and other changes in weather patterns can create ideal conditions for the spread of vector-borne diseases, putting people at risk of serious illness.
In addition, vector-borne diseases can increase the risk of other infectious diseases, such as Dengue fever and West Nile virus.
Climate change is a major public health threat. It’s already causing more extreme weather events and natural disasters, which can lead to greater risks for vector-borne diseases.
These diseases are illnesses that are spread to humans by insects or other animals that carry the disease-causing organisms in their bodies.
How do you protect yourself from vector-borne diseases?
These include Lyme disease, West Nile virus, Dengue fever, and Malaria.
Warmer temperatures allow ticks and mosquitoes to survive longer and thrive in more areas than they could previously.
This means disease vectors may reach new areas where they haven’t been seen before.
Ticks and mosquitoes also have more time to feed on animals that carry the diseases they can spread to humans.
That is increasing the likelihood that they will pick up infections while feeding and then pass them along when they bite people who are in close contact with them.
The Impact of Climate Change on Health and Food Insecurity
As temperatures rise, crops become more vulnerable to extreme weather events such as droughts and floods.
This can lead to decreased crop yields, which can lead to higher food prices and food scarcity.
Resulting in serious health consequences which lead to nutrient deficiencies, and causing problems such as anaemia, stunted growth, and weakened immune systems.
Climate change is increasing the risk of food insecurity, especially for those who are already vulnerable.
It is causing droughts, flooding, and heat waves in some areas, which can destroy crops or make them less productive.
Rising temperatures can also cause other changes, such as when higher temperatures reduce the amount of time that corn pollinates or when they cause soil erosion.
At the same time, extreme weather events — like hurricanes — are becoming more common worldwide.
These events can damage infrastructure and buildings that support agriculture, including roads, bridges, and irrigation systems.
Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns can also affect when crops are planted and harvested — which makes it harder for farmers to plan their work cycles effectively.
This means that farmers have less control over the quality of their crops and may need to buy more fertiliser or pesticides to grow their crops successfully — which costs money.
Climate-related disasters can disrupt food systems and harm agricultural production. While climate change affects agriculture making it more difficult to produce enough nutritious food with fewer resources.
Mental Health in the Face of Climate Change
The effects of climate change are not limited to physical health. Mental health is also impacted by climate change.
Climate change is a major global health threat. It increases the risk of disease, illness, and premature death.
People who are exposed to extreme weather events, such as floods and hurricanes, are more likely to suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
The effects of climate change on mental health have been largely overlooked by scientists and policymakers.
But as the world becomes increasingly aware of the mental health risks posed by climate change, some researchers are starting to investigate this issue more closely.
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to evacuate?
There are two main ways that climate change affects people’s mental health – through physical exposure to dangerous weather conditions and through indirect effects on our social environment.
Physical impacts include heat stress, extreme temperatures, heat waves, storms, and flooding.
These can harm our bodies directly or indirectly through injury or loss of property or income (e.g., when crops fail).
Indirect impacts refer to changes in our daily lives because of the effects of climate change on our social environment (e.g., shortages of food or water).
This can cause psychological distress by increasing feelings of stress, anxiety or helplessness.
Sustainable development is essential for addressing climate change and reducing health risks.
Sustainable development focuses on a minimal impact on Planet Earth’s resources from manufacturing and consumption.
This is a way of improving the environment, minimising health risks, and promoting social welfare in the long term.
Poor healthcare, limited access to safe drinking water, and poor living conditions can be improved.
These improvements in conditions lead to better management of natural resources.
Acid Rain and How It Affects the Environment and Climate
Acid rain is a harmful chemical mixture caused by the combination of precipitation and pollutants in the air, especially oxides of nitrogen and sulphur…read more
The number of infectious diseases has decreased because of this kind of planning which also promotes education.
A sustainable economy is based on growth that does not take away from future generations, but rather helps future generations by promoting growth that helps all people be more productive, healthy, and safe.
The economy is an important part of everyday life. It has a direct impact on our financial well-being and quality of life, and it also affects our health and safety.
Also, the economy is the system through which goods are produced, distributed, consumed, and disposed of by society.
The economic system must be compatible with nature’s limits.
As climate change continues to unfold, it’s causing human health misery from hunger and food insecurity, heat stress, worsening droughts, floods and storms.
Climate change is hard to understand because the consequences are not direct and obvious.
But while there are still things we can do to help improve our future, the fact remains that there are significant negative impacts of climate change on public health today.
And that these effects will only get worse if our emissions keep growing.
It makes a lot of sense for us to act now. After all, who wants to have an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, or stroke for themselves or their children?