Health & Global Warming
Global warming is a constant threat to the well-being of the human species. For some time now we have been warned of what will happen if we do not try to improve and correct the things we do to damage the earth. The more time passes the more we are able to easily recognize the signs of global warming all around us. Unfortunately by the time we are able to actually see the results it is most likely too late to stop them, or perhaps too late to even attempt to slow them. The changes on the earth cause a chain reaction that ends up affecting everything, including humans. In the near future we will see more and more death and illness that can be directly related to global warming through changes in the weather, insect patterns, and changes in our water.
There has already been a steady increase in average temperature around the world. “Deadly stretches of hot days, where nighttime temperatures remain high, will become more common. Based indicates on past heat wave events, research that by the year 2020, global warming could cause up to a 145% rise in mortality in New York City. Other major cities could suffer similar problems (Sierra Club, 2008).” Natural disasters also will become more common and have greater strength. As in Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people became ill or died because of the conditions during and after the storm. According to our text, it was the sixth strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. It was also one of the deadliest and most costly. Hurricanes not only cause problems during the actual storm with high winds and rising waters, but there are also many threats to human life afterward due to flood waters, displaced animals, mold and contamination after the waters have receded, and lack of proper food and supplies for the survivors.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that changes in our weather could be responsible for, “increases in malnutrition and consequent disorders, with implications for child growth and development; increased deaths, disease and injury due to heat waves, floods, storms, fires and droughts; the increased burden of diarrhoeal disease; the increased frequency of cardio-respiratory diseases due to higher concentrations of ground-level ozone related to climate change; and the altered spatial distribution of some infectious disease vectors (IPCC, 2007).”
With the change in temperature also comes the change in areas affected by certain insects carrying vector borne diseases. Mosquitoes that carry these diseases are usually confined to tropic areas because they die during frosts and thrive in warmer waters. However, with longer warm seasons in places like the United States, many of those species of mosquitoes are able to migrate to new areas. Dengue fever has been seen as far north as Chicago. Malaria could soon threaten as much as 65% of the worlds’ population. “In the last three years malaria cases have occurred as far north as New Jersey, Michigan and Queens, New York. In 1997 an outbreak occurred in Florida, striking the Disney World theme park, and mosquitoes carrying the illness were discovered in New York (Sierra Club, 2008).” Outbreaks of cholera and encephalitis have been reported around the United States as well, which has been attributed to the warmer waters brining the disease hosts into our country.
Global warming will have many damaging impacts on human health. Spreading infectious disease, longer and hotter heat waves, and extreme weather will all claim thousands of lives nationwide each year. If global warming continues the way it is currently, and only continues to get worse, both we and our children will pay a terrible price.