Climate change and its affect on our health

For the past 50 years, man has contributed a lot to climate change. The use of fossil fuels is known to be the leading source of substances like green house gases and carbon dioxide, both of which are known to affect the global climate negatively. Rising sea levels, melting glaciers as well as changing patterns of precipitation are enough to tell us that global warming is increasing and this poses a serious threat to human health.

Before we can elaborate how global climate change is threatening our lives, let us meditate the following facts given by the World Health Organization.

Climate change has a direct negative impact on clean air, safe drinking water, and food and shelter security.The intensity of global warming increased from 1970 and it has resulted in loss of more than 140000 lives each year.The health related damage costs resulting from global warming are expected to be between US$2-4 billion each year by the year 2030. This, however, excludes the costs in departments like agriculture, water and sanitation i.e. health-determining aspects.By controlling the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the threats posed by global warming can be eliminated. This can be done by opting for alternative measures that will stop the emission of the deadly gases.

Global climate change will negatively our health via pathways of different complexity, scale and directness and with different timing. Similarly, impacts would vary geographically as a function both of environment and topography and of vulnerability of the local population. Expert’s scientific reviews reveal that the impacts of global warming are predominantly negative. This is no surprise since climatic change would disrupt or alter a large range of natural ecological and physical system that are an integral part of the Earth’s life support system.

A summary of the pathways by which it affects human health may be summarized as follows:

  • Temperature-related illness and deaths
  • Extreme weather-related health effects
  • Air-borne related health effects
  • Water and food-borne related health effects
  • Vector-borne and rodent-borne diseases.
  • Effects of food and water shortages.

Mental, nutritional, infectious and other related health effects.

The more direct threshold on health comprises those resulting from changes in subjection to weather extremes (heat waves, winter cold): increase in other weather events (floods, cyclones, storm-surges, droughts): and enhanced emission of aeroallergens (spores and molds) as well as air pollutants.

Decreases in winter deaths as a result of milder winters will compensate for increases in summer mortality because of increased occurance and intensity of heat waves. In countries with high levels of excess mortality, the beneficial impact may outweigh the detrimental. The extent of change in the frequency, intensity and location of extreme weather events due to climate change is anticipated to be high.

Climate change, acting via less direct mechanisms, would affect the transmission of many infectious diseases (especially water, food and vector-borne diseases) and regional food production (especially cereal grains). In the longer term and with considerable variation between populations as a function of geography and vulnerability, these indirect impacts have a greater magnitude.

For vector-borne infections, the distribution and quantity of vector creatures and their intermediate hosts are affected by various physical (temperature, precipitation, humidity) and biotic factors e.g. vegetation, host species, predators, competitors, and human interventions.

Various integrated modeling studies have revealed that a rise in ambient temperatures would cause worldwide, net increase in the distribution of particular vector organisms like malarial mosquitoes. Further, temperature related changes in the life cycle of the vector creatures and pathogenic organisms (flukes, protozoa, bacteria and viruses) would raise the transmission of diseases such as malaria (mosquito), dengue fever (mosquito) and leishmaniasis (sand fly).

Climate change would also affect the cereal grain yields (which account for two-thirds of the world food energy). Globally a slight downturn would result in an increase in the number of malnourished people.

By reflecting the increased retention of heat energy in the lower atmosphere, global warming also affects the atmospheric heat budget so as to increase the cooling of the stratosphere. Should the cooling persist, the process of ozone depletion would increase. This result in increases in incidences of skin cancer, eye lesions and even suppression of the immune activity.

It is advisable for all individuals to device mechanisms that stop global warming. Some countries have even devised some ways and it is upon other countries to embrace them. Otherwise, human beings would be extinct creatures -just like the dinosaurs.


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