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How Climate Change Influences Health

Updated on December 16, 2017

Introduction

There has been a significant change in the global climate across a diverse range of observations. In essence, Global warming and climate change are continually having a toll on living and non living organisms in the world. If the trend continues and no sufficient action or strategies are undertaken to mitigate the phenomena, then there is a high potential of climate change impacts to cause a devastating damage to life. The phenomena of global warming have been basically fuelled by human activities. Among the observable effects of this climate change includes the shrinking of glaciers, breaking of ice on lakes and rivers, loss and decrease of sea, shifting of animal and plant ranges, earlier flowering of trees and a rise in global warming. According to a study by the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), worldwide mean temperatures which are projected to keep on increasing will generate harmful impact in many areas of the globe. The IPCC continued to state that from available evidence, the damage that will be derived from climate change will be quite significant and costly over time. This paper will essentially discuss the effects of global warming on human health.

Discussion

According to Hess, McDowell, and Luber (2012, human health has mostly been influenced by weather and climate conditions. Changes and variability in climate especially those related to extremes of weather and climate poses a huge influence on the environment which is the source of food, clean air, security, water and shelter.

The change in climate and whether alongside other human made and natural health stressors have a huge affects or rather determines in a great way the wellbeing and health of human beings in diverse perspectives. In addition, the shifting climate and weather changes causes varied impact on human health in different regions and perspectives. They may range from some of the less obvious forms such as severe storms and the threats of extreme temperatures. For example, climate and weather causes a significant influence to the behavior, distribution of rodents, ticks and mosquitoes which are responsible in transmitting diseases such as Malaria, Lyme or West Nile Virus. Climate also does determine the quality of food and water in specific areas with a direct influence on human health. Additionally, the impact to which global climate change cause on well-being and mental health can be related to the general climate caused health impact (Turner, 2003).

Melillo,)Richmond, and Yohe, (2014)postulates that at a larger societal level, the health outcomes are largely determined by capacity factors including those associated with built and natural environments(for instance, the infrastructural conditions), management and management( surveillance or protective programs) and or institutions that operate at different levels. For instance, public health, water resource and environmental bodies in the United States are mandated to offer health related safeguards including issuance of advisories, assessing water quality to reduce risk of illnesses or exposure to health hazards. Therefore, for countries such as the United States, some aspects of health impacts caused by climate change may be mitigated by factors including solid social capital, effective institutions that are vested with the capacity of maintaining the high level of adaptive capacity.

A report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) on Health and Climate assessment sought to evaluate the health impact of climate change using reliable evidence and quantitative estimation of projected and observed climate change among specific populations in the United States. The report was developed for the purpose of informing relevant health authorities, disaster and urban planners, decision and policy makers alongside other stakeholders who are in one way or another affected by the health risks associated with the effects of climate change. Accordingly, the authors noted that the health impacts associated with climate change occur independently and a community or an individual may face various threats simultaneously and at different level in that individual’s life. According to the report, some of the environmental impacts including high level accumulation of ozone during very hot days, air pollution or cascading impacts in the course of extreme events poses a clear connection to one another.

In other cases, people may be threatened simultaneously by seemingly unconnected risks, such as increased exposure to Lyme disease and extreme heat. These impacts can also be compounded by secondary or tertiary impacts, such as climate change impacts on access to or disruption of healthcare services, damages to infrastructure, or effects on the economy. Findings by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (2017)articulates that the change in climate makes it harder in reducing ground level ozone related pollution. This is because the weather and air conditions offer support to formation of the ozone across specific regions. Unless this is followed by ozone producing chemicals that have the capability of offsetting more emission reductions, the increases which are primarily driven by climate changes have been presumed to cause increased hospital visits, premature deaths, acute respiratory conditions, lost school or work days and other health related complications. Additionally, the different types of extreme events that are associated with climate change mostly stir disruption of infrastructure, including transportation, water, communication systems, power among others which are quite critical when it comes to emergency and healthcare response as well as in safeguarding human health.

Fann, Nolte, Dolwick, Spero, Curry Brown, Phillips, and Anenberg, (2015) points out those parasites such as ticks that carry bacteria or disease causing germs such as Lyme disease as well as other pathogens portrays seasonal activity in their early teams. They also have a tendency of migrating to specific geographical places in response to raising temperatures which is stirred by climate change. Expanded geographical range and seasonable activities of these ticks raises the risk of exposure to them by human beings. Similarly, the rises in water temperature as a consequence of climate change have a tendency of changing the habitat range and seasonal windows for marine and freshwater algae that produces toxins alongside particular naturally occurring vibrio bacteria. The highlighted changes potentially raise the risk of exposure to toxins and pathons that are waterborne causing various types of diseases and health conditions. Furthermore, agricultural food crops including rice, wheat, beans etc are known to harbor immense nutritional content. Consequently, the change in climate such as the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide will result into their decrease as well as the reduction in protein concentration and basic minerals in various species of these crops (Smith, and Katz, 2013).

Individuals with mental conditions are subjected to higher risks to poor mental and physical health as a result of abnormal heat. According to (chwartz, 2015), extreme heat raises the risk of disease and even death for persons with mental conditions. These may also extend to the elderly and those undertaking medical prescriptions which impair the capability of regulating temperature. The authors also establish that climate change affects the health of communities and individuals by affecting sensitivity, exposure and the capacity to adaptivity. Accordingly, social determinants of health including those associated with health disparities and socioeconomic factors could heighten or otherwise influence the effects that are related to climate, especially when these factors occur close in space and time or simultaneously.

Conclusion and Implications

This analysis has provided a significant insight regarding the impact of climate change on the health of individuals and communities. Accordingly, I have been able to learn that extreme temperatures may influence the increase movement of carrier parasites from one region to another, thus exposing the host human population to such diseases. Furthermore, some temperature extreme destroy critical infrastructure such as roads, health care facilities and so on, thus depriving individuals and communities the opportunity to access the needed healthcare. What is more, when the temperature becomes extreme, some forms of agricultural food crops may fail to yield favorable results or otherwise their nutritional contents may be altered significantly. These deprives people the required food and nutrition, thus exposing them to associated nutritional health risks.

After gaining this substantive knowledge on the affects of climate change on human health, I now understand my responsibility in mitigating such an affect and thus protect the rights good health for individuals and community. As reported by Physicians for Social Responsibility (2017) health workers have a mandate to protect the environment and more importantly work towards mitigating climate change in various perspectives. Through their research, they are at a better position to make policy suggestions, reports and statements that explain the significance of health and climate connections. These professionals also need to involve themselves in advocacy campaigns alongside policy stances for the mobilizing individuals, healthcare and government authorities and other stakeholders regarding the need to monitor and act on human activities that are supporting in one way or another the phenomena of climate change.

I now understand that I have a greater role in adaptation of climate change through identifying individuals, populations and individuals who are at risk as well as help in tailoring clinical care in a way that not only protects the rights of such individuals but also improving their health. According to World Health Organization (2014), healthcare workers need to work towards reducing health risks associated with the environment. This can be done by promoting health lifestyles or advocating for balanced diet and healthier foods at the policy arena. The community, individuals or even the public at large could learn a great deal from the wider knowledge of the practitioners on the diverse patient populations that they work on and exploit their status by reducing health related risks. This way, they will be able to save many people from being affected by extreme weather conditions and more particular from health conditions that are caused by this extreme climate change.

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