Climate Change Causes More Health Problems Than We Think
More and more people become sick because climate change causes more health problems every day. We should highlight the fact that climate change does not only damage the environment, but it also impairs human health. The Lancet Countdown recently released a new report, arguing that the effects of global warming on our health could be more dangerous than we think.
About 24 academic institutions from around the world developed the new report, while the World Health Organization (WHO) was also one of them. The new study indicates that millions of people suffer due to mosquito-spread illnesses. Furthermore, they also meet several other challenges and develop other health problems like malnutrition, cardiovascular and respiratory problems.
Unprecedented heatwaves also influence the state of health of millions of people. The worse thing concerning researchers is that they cannot do anything about these diseases. No one could stop them unless the effects of climate change diminish. The results of the report indicate that our symptoms fueled by climate change may be irreversible.
The climate change effects will clearly affect the most vulnerable societies while every community out there will be affected. The new report proves that the consequences are so severe because we did not try to stop climate change sooner. Hence, governments should struggle more to impose new regulations regarding greenhouse gas emissions. Our biggest concern at the moment is to reach to fulfill the goals set via the Paris agreement. Nevertheless, our response to climate change from the last 25 years has affected livelihoods.
One of the effects of climate change on human health is malnutrition. It represents the largest health impact of global warming this century. Massive increases in temperature and extreme heatwaves caused crops to perish. Crops could not adapt to the climatic extremes and, therefore, they did not survive. Statistics indicate that for every temperature rise of 1 degree Celsius, wheat yields fall 6% and rice yields fall 10%.
In September 2015, the United Nations adopted the second Sustainable Development Goal. The goal was to achieve food security, improve nutrition and end hunger by 2030. However, more than 800 million people are going hungry. Furthermore, more than 2 billion people are malnourished. Even if the UN tries to end malnutrition, food systems are impaired due to the variability in weather as an effect of climate change.
Hence, many countries confront more storms, more floods, and more droughts. The research program on climate change developed by the CGIAR indicates that 3% of the African land which supports more than 35 million people will not be able to grow maize soon. Furthermore, by 2069, potato yield might decrease by 32% if crops do not adapt.
Anomalously high temperatures may even be fatal for very young people, for seniors or for those who are very sick. Statistics show that between 2000 and 2016 over 125 million vulnerable people coped with heatwaves. Furthermore, 175 million people around the world suffered due to heatwaves in 2015. Researchers predict that by 2050, 1 billion people more will also have coped with heatwaves. The combination of high night-time temperatures and high humidity may become deadly since it offers no relief. This poses a great threat to human health, especially for seniors.
Scientists argue that extreme heat cause more deaths on an annual basis than earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, lightning, and hurricanes all combined. Nevertheless, the low-humidity heat waves can cause even more problems since they are associated with droughts. They contribute to dry conditions which fuel the occurrence of wildfires.
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Every year, more than 6 million people die due to air pollution-related diseases. Poor air quality especially affects the low-income nations. The new report developed by the Lancet Countdown unveils that 87% of cities around the globe violate the WHO air pollution guidelines. Numerous power plants and companies use fossil fuels to power engines.
The emissions resulted after burning the fossil fuels are full of toxic chemicals. These greenhouse gas emissions contribute to ozone layer depletion causing different types of skin cancers and eye affections. Besides this, inhaling dangerous gases from the air, like PM2.5, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide could be dangerous. The high levels of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere could cause a series of respiratory and pulmonary health issues.
Air pollution can have chronic effects on our health, deteriorating numerous systems and organs in our body. The diseases may range from minor respiratory irritation heart diseases, acute respiratory infections, lung cancers and asthmatic attacks. Furthermore, long-term exposure to air pollution can be linked to reduced life expectancy and premature mortality.
Air pollution can cause respiratory problems
When breathing air contaminated with sulfur oxide, we might experience bronchitis, shortness of breath, cough, fatigue and long colds. A great part of the sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere transforms into sulfate salts. When rain washes out these sedimentations, the water becomes acidic. On the other hand, the oxides of nitrogen are also toxic gases.
If we get exposed to high concentration of nitrogen dioxide might increase the risks of developing acute respiratory illnesses such as emphysema, chronic fibrosis, bronchitis, and bronchopneumonia. Furthermore, NO2 can also impair lung functions.
Specialists indicate that particulate matter from the atmosphere can also affect human health. They can even have external effects, causing skin issues. One of the greatest concerns related to PM2.5 is that these particles can pass into the bloodstream, acting just like systematic poison. The effects of PM2.5 depend on the size of the particles and their solubility.
The fine particles of PM2.5 can trigger irritation of bronchospasm, allergic alveolitis, and pulmonary oedema. On the other hand, particular molds of bigger particle size can even determine obstructive lung disease.
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All these climate change effects do not only disrupt weather events and affect numerous animal and plant habitats, but they also damage our health. Ironically, human-made activities cause climate change which in turn affects human health, forming a cycle. If we were to act on the climate change problem, we would be able to live healthy lives in a healthy environment.