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Effects of Climate Change on Health

Essay by   •  March 7, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  1,312 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,774 Views

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According to Patz et al, climate change "represents the leading health inequity of our time" (2007: 1). In 2005 the World Health Organisation estimated that global warming caused about 150 000 deaths annually (Patz, Campbell-Lendrum, Holloway, & Foley, 2005). For thousands of years the world's climate has been relatively stable, but for about the last century, the release of greenhouse gasses has increased, and thus the stability of the Earth's climate is vulnerable (Frumkin, Hess, Luber , Malilay, & Mcgeehin, 2008). In the following paper I will discuss the consequential impact of climate change on the well-being of humans. I will highlight the main health risks which arise due to climate change and whether or not there are solutions for them. If so, are these solutions resilient, or will they only serve to postpone our imminent demise?

Climatic factors, such as extreme heat, cold, droughts, storms, modifications in air and water quality and the changes in the ecology of communicable diseases have been providing us with evidence that supports the notion that the effects of climate change poses a threat to the well-being of humans (McMichael, Woodruff, & Hales, 2006). Below I explore the different health implications brought forth by climate change:

One of the most astounding impacts of climate change is that of extreme fluctuations in temperature. An example of such an extremity occurred in August 2003, in which Europe experienced an increase in heat of about 3.5 degrees Celsius; between 22,000 and 45,000 people lost their lives as a direct result of human-induced climate change (Patz, Campbell-Lendrum, Holloway, & Foley, 2005). Dangerous weather events involve times where temperatures are higher than standard, droughts and storms occur as well as heavy rains and flooding (McMichael, Woodruff, & Hales, 2006). Over time, the people who occupy the region in which these extremities occur adapt to the predominant climate by means of physiological, behavioural, cultural and technological responses. Conversely, these extreme climatic modifications often stress populations beyond the limits of said adaptation (860).

An additionally serious implication of climate change on human well-being is malnutrition as a result of crop failures (McMichael & Haines, 1997). According to the World Health Organisation, malnutrition is one of the largest health dilemmas (Patz, Campbell-Lendrum, Holloway, & Foley, 2005). Droughts, extreme heat and other climate immoderations, have direct effects on crops and can therefore have an impact on food supply indirectly by modifying the ecology of plant pathogens (311). The effects of hunger and malnutrition have quite dire consequences as they intensify the chance of infant and child mortality and retard the development of the child both physically and intellectually (McMichael & Haines, 1997).

Unfortunately the negative effects of climate change do not end here; in fact, it only proves to have a possibly more deadly consequence than the ones mentioned above. Climate change also contributes to the spread of infectious diseases. Indeed, an entire category of diseases--known as tropical diseases--are named for a specific climate (Frumkin, Hess, Luber , Malilay, & Mcgeehin, 2008). Examples of these are trypanosomiasis, malaria, plague, Rift Valley fever and dengue fever (435).

The above mentioned negative effects of Climate Chang has been extensively researched in the hopes of finding soluble solutions for them, but the question still arises as to whether or not we, as humans, will be able to salvage what is left of our planet after having abused it for so long (Burkett, 2008). I will now mention a few strategies which could combat the effects of climate change on Earth.

Possible Solutions for problems brought on by Climate Change

MacMichael, Woodruff, & Hales insist that even if drastic steps are taken to combat climate change, it would continue to have negative effects for several more decades (2006 : 859). However there is a debate as to whether or not the models used to estimate future trajectoriesof emitted green house gassses, are reliable seeing that modelling is not seen as a meticulous science



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