Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, scorching sun heat, droughts and many more are the effects of climate change and global warming.
This article will highlight the impacts of climate change on human health.
What Is Climate Change?
Climate change refers to the long-term changes or shifts in the weather patterns or temperature of a region caused by natural phenomena or human-influenced activities. Natural phenomena (e.g. changes in the sun’s activity or large volcanic eruptions) and human-influenced activities (e.g. continuous burning of fossil fuels) are culprits to climate change and global warming.
Effects of Climate Change
When the climate changes, there is an increase in global temperature, which makes extreme weather and disaster inevitable. There will be precipitation (the liquid or frozen water that forms in the atmosphere and falls back to the earth) extremes, sea levels rising, changes in land use and growing seasons.
Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health. It impacts human health directly and indirectly. The results or effects of climate change are:
- Extreme heat
- Air and water pollution
- Reduced food and water quality
- Changes in infectious diseases and vector transmissions
- Increasing allergens (substances that cause the body to produce an allergic reaction)
Challenges of Climate Change
These effects lead to challenges in the overall health of the human race. These challenges :
- Heat-related illness
- Cardiovascular disease, stroke and other chronic conditions
- Injuries and death
- Mental and neurological disorders
- Zoonotic (an infectious disease that jumps from animals to humans), vector and water-borne disease
- Respiratory disease and asthma
Climate Change Threats
Climate change is the biggest health threat facing humanity. The people whose health are being harmed the most by the climate crisis are the people who contribute least to its causes and are the least able to protect themselves and their families against it. They are people whose earnings are low and disadvantaged. They include women, children, ethnic minorities, poor communities, migrants or displaced persons, older populations, those with underlying health conditions, and underdeveloped countries.
Climate change threats may also accumulate over time, leading to longer-term changes in resilience and health. Climate change also undermines many of the social determinants for good health, such as livelihoods, equality and access to health care, and social support structures.
Scientists have figured that between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, resulting from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress. So, the longer measures to control the impacts of climate change are being delayed or ignored, especially by those nations still relying on the use of fossil fuels for their daily living, the more detrimental the effects of climate change will be. Luckily, there are bodies that have been formed to oversee the control measures to be taken to slow down the adverse effects of climate change. Examples of such bodies are the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the National Institute of Environmental Health (NIEHS). Interventions and strategies such as early warning and preparedness, engaging communities to adopt better ways to manage climate change impacts, educating people and raising awareness of climate change and its effects, and integrating renewable energy or other alternatives to energy, will go a long way to mitigate climate change impacts on human health.