Human health is often affected by changes in the climate. Human beings need to understand the changing climate and adopt the measures as per changing climate. Nowadays, changing climate has become a serious threat to people’s health. After studying this article, readers will be able to understand, “The effects of climate change on health and the steps to adapt to them.”
Climate change affects human health in two ways:
For people who are already suffered from some ailments, the intensity or severity of the problem increases in them with the climate changes.
Climate changes sometimes become the causes of such health issues in specific areas that were not present earlier in those areas. The diagnosis and treatment of such health issues become complicated.
Climate changes can affect every human being but people belonging to poor communities, pregnant women, children, older adults, disabled persons, or people already suffering some medical issues may become easy prey of climate change.
Firstly, we will discuss what are these climate changes. secondly, how these changes affect our environment and surroundings negatively. Thirdly, how these affected surroundings impact human health. Finally, we will try to find out the measures and steps to adapt to these climate changes.
- What are climate Changes?
- Increasing Temperatures
- Rising Sea-Levels
- Extreme Weathers
- Changes in Precipitation
- Effects of climate change on human health
- Changing temperature affects human health
- Effects on air quality & human health
- Harmful effects of ground level ozone on human health
- Extreme Weather Events ruin human health
- Effects on Water & human health
- impacts on Food Safety and Nutrition & human wellness
- Effects on mental health
- Other Health Impacts of climate change
- How to adapt to these climate changes?
- Early Warning System
- Steps to Reduce Vulnerabilities
- Educating Healthcare Staff
- Strong Infrastructure
- Predicting & Understanding the Threats
what are climate Changes?
When we talk about climate change, it doesn’t mean the change in temperature only. It refers to the change in our surroundings. This change may include the factors that directly or indirectly affect the life of human beings. Human health is affected the most by these changing factors.
- Increasing Temperatures
- Rising Sea-levels
- Extreme Weathers
- Changes in precipitation
These above-mentioned climate changes ultimately affect the daily food that we take in. These changes also affect the water we drink, the air we breathe in, and the weather we live in.
Public health and safety systems are directly related to the severity of these health issues. The stronger health and safety system do we have, the lower is the risk of health issues and vice versa.
Also, factors like an individual’s behavior, age, gender, and economic status are important regarding this. The intensity of these impacts varies with a person’s living circumstances. It also varies with his sensitivity to health threats, and his exposure to climate change impacts. This intensity differs according to his preparation to adapt to the climate changes of that specific community.
Globally, the population of developing countries may be the most vulnerable to such health risks. But it doesn’t mean people belonging to wealthy nations can not become prey to climate change. Certain communities like children, pregnant women, aged people, and people with low incomes are at higher risk.
Effects of climate change on human health
changing temperature affects human health
Warmer temperature areas can face very frequent and longer heatwaves resulting in an increased number of hotter days. The number of heat-related deaths can increase significantly.
Very high temperatures can result in heatstroke, dehydration, and many other diseases. The population of those areas that are not well equipped to cope with excessive heat may be affected badly.
Also, some communities like outdoor workers, athletes, homeless people become more vulnerable to this increased temperature.
Extreme heat can badly affect children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with certain medical conditions as it is difficult for them to adjust their body temperature.
Effects on air quality & human health
Climate change also affects the quality of the air we breathe in. The warmer climate and changing weather conditions badly affect the air quality. Resultantly, different diseases like asthma attacks and other respiratory problems start ruining human health.
Wildfires increase the heat and smoke that significantly affect air quality and result in more carbon dioxide in the air. Different allergies emerge due to increased temperatures.
harmful effects of ground level ozone on human health
Scientists predict that warmer temperatures can increase the frequency of days leading to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone, a harmful air pollutant, and a component in smog.
Exposure to higher levels of ground-levels of ozone results in premature death or different respiratory problems.
Damaged lung tissues, reduced lung function, and inflame airways can be the result of ground-level ozone. Unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone can affect children, older adults, outdoor workers, and those already suffering from asthma and other chronic lung diseases.
Extreme Weather Events ruin human health
Weather events like extreme precipitation, flooding, droughts, and storms increase in frequency or severity. The health of people is at high risk during and after such events. The soft target of extreme events may be young children, older adults, people with disabilities or medical conditions, and the poor.
Effects on Water & human health
Contaminated drinking or recreational water can be the cause of illness of people. The risk of being ill is increased due to increasing temperature, more frequent heavy rains, and the effects of storms. Climate change increases the risk of illness through increasing temperature.
Contaminated drinking water causes gastrointestinal diseases such as diarrhea. It also affects the body’s nervous and respiratory systems. It also damages the liver and kidneys.
Changing water temperature increases the inclusion chances of harmful bacteria and harmful algal toxins in the water and seafood.
Increases in extreme precipitation result in runoff and flooding that becomes the cause of contamination of water bodies used for recreation such as lakes and beaches, and sources of drinking water. Extreme weather events increase the risk of people’s exposure to contaminated water.
impacts on Food Safety and Nutrition & human wellness
Food safety and nutrition are affected due to climate changes and there is a higher risk of impacts of concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The distribution of food also slows down due to extreme weather events.
Bacteria-related food poisonings can increase due to higher air temperatures because in warm environments bacteria grow more rapidly. These food poisonings can lead to gastrointestinal distress and, in severe cases, deaths can occur.
The risk of exposure to chemical contaminants in food is very high due to the impacts of climate change. There will be higher mercury concentrations in seafood due to the higher temperature of the sea surface. Also, increased extreme weather events will result in contaminants in the food chain.
Foods like wheat, rice, and potatoes become less nutritious because of the low levels of protein and essential minerals. Protein and essential minerals remain low due to concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air.
effects on mental health
Change in the surrounding environment can also have serious impacts on the mental health of people. A person can suffer from depression and other mental health problems, especially when someone loses his loved ones or his home during extreme weather conditions.
Studies show that mentally ill persons have more chances of death during a heatwave. It becomes difficult for people who are taking medication for mental illness to regulate their body temperature so they are more vulnerable to risk.
Even the news about damages of earth events around the globe increases the stress on the mind of the viewer or listener.
Other Health Impacts of climate change
Changes in temperature and precipitation, droughts, and floods, can significantly affect agricultural yields and production. This can result in food shortage, malnutrition, the spread of infectious diseases, and food poisoning. Developing countries are more at risk during these conditions.
How to adapt to these climate changes?
A lot can be done to prepare for and adapt to these changes. Some suggestions related to this topic are given below.
Early Warning System
Governments can take steps towards establishing early warning systems for heatwaves and extreme events.
Steps to Reduce Vulnerabilities
The governments can take important steps to reduce vulnerabilities among concerned populations.
Educating Healthcare Staff
The governments should provide proper education and awareness to the healthcare professionals regarding this matter.
It should be ensured that available infrastructure is enough strong to anticipate and accommodate the coming climate changes.
Predicting & Understanding the Threats
There should be a proper prediction and then a clear understanding of the threats that climate change can have to human health.
In fact, climate change is a natural phenomenon. So, we can not stop this to happen. All that we can do is to try to make the damage minimum. We can better prepare ourselves for the upcoming climate changes. We can manage the steps to adapt to these changes. As the effects of climate change directly impact human health, we can take some precautionary measures as suggested in the article.
Hopefully, you are now well aware of the “effects of climate change on health and steps to adapt to them.” It is a well-known fact that precaution is better than cure. So to deal with climate change, all of us should take some measures to avoid resulting health issues.