Climate Change and Health Degradation

climate change 1

In our pursuit for convenience and better life, we have gone a long way making inventions and innovations that make our lives comfortable, no doubt; but it also ruins the environment we live in. Operating on fossil fuel, most of the latest inventions pose serious threats to the climate, which is changing rapidly, thus affecting the existence of mankind on this planet.

In the last 130 years, the temperature of the world has increased by approximately 0.85oC because of human activities. And by activities we mean fossil fuel powered progress. Currently, the daily CO2 emission levels stand at 406.47 ppm (parts per million globally). And population increasing at 1.11% growth rate (estimated to be 7.5 billion in 2017) clearly indicates a higher rate of pollution, painting a pretty bleak picture of our future.

Effects

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It is estimated that continuous climate change because of pollution will claim approximately 250000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050. Malnutrition, diarrhoea, malaria, and heat stress are expected to plague developed and under-developed countries alike, and countries without strong infrastructure may witness chaos.

However, our present is not very bright either. Climate change is here and so is the damage. This isn’t a problem for our next generation to ponder. It is our burden to bear, otherwise there won’t be a next generation at all. Let us break down the effects of climate change in 5 parts, indicating how the issue has already spread and started to attack our health from multiple sides.

  1. Temperature Related Problems– Raising temperature has made days hotter. Heat waves are longer and more frequent now. These changes have led to an increase in heat-related deaths. In 2017, Asia recorded 53.5° C (128.3° F) temperature in the summer days. Research also shows that heat wave days in India have increased by 25% in 2017 over 2016. Too much heat is leading to heat stroke and dehydration, thus giving cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular diseases a better chance of snatching lives worldwide. With temperature continuing to rise, exposure to the sun becomes more fatal (even for shorter time frame), claiming more lives.
  2. Air Quality Issues– With the temperature rising, the air is becoming less breathable, leading to cardiovascular and respiratory problems. Temperature rise is causing more wildfire than natural, mixing unhealthy air pollutants and co2 in the air. According to a research report, in 2014 US estimated that air quality in many counties did not meet national air quality standards, affecting nearly 57 million Americans. In India, the Northern and Central regions are quite affected by the degrading quality of air due to the growing urbanisation and extensive use of fossil fuel. Fossil fuel powered transport system has a huge contribution in increasing CO2 levels globally (Air travel has highest emissions per person/km, and it has produced 781 million tonnes of CO2 in 2015).
  3. Drastic Weather Changes– Extreme weather events like storms, precipitation, droughts, and floods threaten the health of people. These phenomenon are deeply rooted to the primary cause of climate change, which is fossil fuel usage. And after Hurricane Katrina (2005), which claimed 971 to 1,300 lives, floods and storms are becoming more frequent each year.
  4. Disease Related Issues– Besides contaminated air and water related diseases, Vector-borne Diseases have considerably increased with climate change. These diseases are spread by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas, and the change in temperature has widened the spread of such vectors, thus allowing the diseases to spread further.
  5. Food Contamination Issues– Higher concentrations of CO2 and other pollutants leads to climate change, which is showing damaging effects in food and nutrition harvesting/distribution.
  • For example- Rising air temperature has increased cases of bacteria-related food poisoning globally. Bacteria like Salmonella grow faster in warm environments and have been the reason behind gastrointestinal distress even death.
  • Higher sea temperature has led to higher chemical contaminations in the sea food, poisoning people. Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air lowers the level of protein in wheat, rice, and potatoes.
  • And obviously, frequent drought and floods due to climate change damage the crops and fosters the rise of the maladies like malnutrition.

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It is apparent that climate change is as real as it gets, and the reality is unfortunately not painting a pretty picture of our present, let alone the future. However, fortunately we have a solution now. The global urge to phase out fossil fuel in favour of green energy (especially solar), can restore our world as nourishing as the creator intended.

It would be pertinent to highlight that more than 3,000 pounds of CO2 can be reduced by 1 KW of green energy (annually). Understanding the equation, China is aggressively pursuing complete in-country solarisation. India is also growing consistently in its march towards solarisation. The Country has nearly doubled its total installed capacity for solar energy production in the last 1 year, and has pledged to reach 100 GW of solar power by 2022 in order to reduce its carbon emissions. India has also launched an International Solar Alliance of more than 120 countries, in order to safeguard our future and make this planet a better place to live in.

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As rightly put by Bjork, “Solar power, wind power, the way forward is to collaborate with nature – it’s the only way we are going to get to the other end of the 21st century.”

Bibliography

https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-human-health_.html

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/04/climate-change-public-health-threat-white-house-report

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/indias-rising-temperatures-are-already-deadly-study-shows-4694294/

http://www.imd.gov.in/pages/heatwave.php

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/Air-pollution-a-national-problem/article17026779.ece

http://cpcb.nic.in/upload/Downloads/AQI_Bulletin_20170830.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/climateandhealth/effects/default.htm

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs266/en/

https://health2016.globalchange.gov/

http://newsroom.unfccc.int/unfccc-newsroom/climate-change-impacts-human-health/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/may/05/medical-scientists-report-on-the-impact-climate-change-is-having-on-health

 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/30/india-set-to-unveil-global-solar-alliance-of-120-countries-at-paris-climate-summit

 

 

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