Climate change impacts human health

Climate change impacts human health

Illustration courtesy of CDC

Climate change, admittedly a challenge confronting today’s world leaders, is seen as the single biggest health threat facing humanity, and health professionals worldwide are already responding to the health harms caused by this unfolding crisis.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that to avert catastrophic health impacts and prevent millions of climate change-related deaths, the world must limit temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Past emissions have made a certain level of global temperature rise and other changes to the climate inevitable. Global heating of even 1.5°C is not considered safe, however; every additional tenth of a degree of warming will take a serious toll on people’s lives and health.

Climate change, which refers to the change in the environmental conditions of the earth, happens due to many internal and external factors.

Climatic change has become a global concern over the last few decades. Besides, these climatic changes affect life on the earth in various ways.

Experts are saying climate change can also impact human health by worsening air and water quality, increasing the spread of certain diseases, and altering the frequency or intensity of extreme weather events.

Rising sea level threatens coastal communities and ecosystems.

Experts add that global warming is primarily a problem of too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, with this overload caused mainly when we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas or cut down and burn forests.

Some experts have come up with a bulletin board on how we can help solve climate change.

The main ways to stop climate change, in their view, are to pressure the government and businesses to:

Keep fossil fuels in the ground. …

Invest in renewable energy. …

Switch to sustainable transport. …

Help us keep our homes cozy. …

Improve farming and encourage vegan diets. …

Restore nature to absorb more carbon. …

Protect forests like the Amazon, the Sierra Madre, and the Caraballo range.

Undeniably, climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food, and secure shelter.

According to world health experts, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress.

They add the direct damage costs to health (i.e. excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), which is estimated to be between US$2-4 billion/year by 2030 and areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries like the Philippines will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.

Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy-use choices can result in improved health, particularly through reduced air pollution.

Necessarily, climate change has become the biggest health threat facing humanity.

The climate crisis threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction, and to further widen existing health inequalities between and within populations.

We agree with world health experts that climate change severely jeopardizes the realization of universal health coverage in various ways – including by compounding the existing burden of disease and by exacerbating existing barriers to accessing health services, often at the times when they are most needed.

Figures suggest more than 930 million people — around 12 percent of the world’s population — spend at least 10 percent of their household budget to pay for health care.

With the poorest people largely uninsured, health shocks and stresses already currently push around 100 million people into poverty every year, with the impacts of climate change worsening this trend.

Frightening scenario indeed. (ai/mtvn)

Leave a Reply