Climate Change – Health Concerns Related to Global Warming

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Global warming affects the environment as well as the health of the people living in that environment. Climatic changes impact human habitats as much as animal habitats. Human health is very sensitive to these changes.

Global warming has caused rising temperatures in the environment. Devastating heat waves have recently occurred in areas of the world unaccustomed to extreme heat. Heat waves in Europe in 2003 lasted as long as two weeks, and temperatures soared as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Although temperatures like this are common in parts of the American Southwest, European summers are usually much cooler. Over 35,000 people died there as a result of the heat waves that year. They were ill-equipped to deal with their changing habitat.

There have also been heat waves in North America. One in 2006 claimed 226 lives. Another result of global warming is an increase in pollen in the air. Higher levels of carbon dioxide encourage the growth of more pollen-producing weeds. Those with allergies and asthma suffer because more pollen means poorer air quality. The incidence of tropical disease has also increased as disease-carrying mosquitoes are able to live in places that were once too cold for them. Mosquitoes have spread malaria to new regions of Indonesia, and Dengue fever has reached elevations in the Andean Mountains of Colombia where previously it was never seen.

Other health concerns related to global warming involve the flooding that sometimes occurs as a result. When there are sudden storms and flooding, it is often impossible to transport ill or injured people to medical facilities in time. Driving accidents and accidental drownings increase during floods. The messes that must be cleaned up after floods can result in exposure to high levels of mold which many people have serious allergic reactions to such as hives or tongue-swelling.

Since global warming has the potential to harm food supplies, agrarian societies in underdeveloped countries are at a greater risk for malnutrition.

If everyone knew how much global warming can affect their health, they might be more prone to working towards a solution. Until then, those who understand the ramifications of global warming will have to work even harder.

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