Effects of Global Climate Change on Health

By Sierra Amo

Climate change is not just the global change in climate and the increase in atmospheric temperature. Climate change can create diverse health issues for many different people. According to Samantha Harrington at Yale University, the raise in global temperature causes disease-carrying insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks, to expand their range and activity. These insects are vectors for many different illnesses for which we can expect to see increased infections within humans. The rise in global temperature also creates a humid environment which is perfect for these insects to reproduce and increase their population size. The image below is a good depiction of how ticks are able to expand their range and activity due to global climate change. We are having earlier springs and later falls. The period in which ticks are laying their eggs is coming much sooner due to the earlier spring. Ticks are also able to live a longer life span, increasing their activity, because our winters are coming much later.

Figure 1 (https://health2016.globalchange.gov/vectorborne-diseases)

            Another health issue related to climate change is access to safe food and water.  According to National Geographic, crop declines could lead to undernutrition, hunger, and even higher food prices. Heat has also been found to reduce milk production on dairy farms. Rising temperatures and extreme weather can also lead to reduced water quality, according to Harrington at Yale University. Extreme weather can cause increased storm water runoff, and this can then cause the growth of harmful algae making water unsafe to drink. 

            Lastly, climate change can increase the likelihood of respiratory illnesses from air pollution and allergens. Due to the rise in temperature, plants are producing more pollen for a much longer period of time. The image below shows the change in “first leaf” dates and change in “first bloom” dates in the United States. The map shows that in much of the northern US, leaf and bloom dates are coming much sooner than they have in the past. This can intensify allergic reactions for certain individuals, according to Emily Holden from Scientific American. The increased amount of CO2  in the atmosphere also promotes plant growth and can also increase the amount of pollen being produced, which then increases the allergy-causing effects of pollen. Air pollution is also causing issues for many humans. The World Health Organization has estimated that air pollution is responsible for about 7 million deaths annually worldwide. 

Figure 2 (https://climatechange.lta.org/climate-impacts/shifting-seasons/)

            It is very apparent that global climate change is causing diverse health effects for many humans. The best way for us to prepare for this is to try to reverse it as a whole. Taking measures to reduce climate change can reduce the effects it has on our bodies. We can monitor these infectious diseases to keep track of cases and the patterns of infection. Until we take action to reverse the effects of global climate change, we cannot change the effects of it on our bodies.







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