Living Green: Startling Health Implications of Global Warming
Global warming could be responsible for a host of changes in the coming decades. The warmer climate could catalyze changes along the lines of dandelions growing like gangbusters, mosquitoes coming out in droves, and polar bears being unable to adapt to warmer temps and rising water—and ultimately losing their lives as a result.
And those are only a few of the ramifications of global warming. Additionally, there could be increasing health hazards that accompany the warm up. According to the World Health Organization, the number of individuals killed by climate-change related issues each year is already at 150,000, but this number could increase sharply in the near future.
Even slight temperature increases can greatly affect health. For example, global temperature increase of only 2-3º C. could extend the malaria season and increase the number of people at risk of malaria by 3-5 percent, which translates into several hundred million. Those numbers include areas troubled by malaria, such as Africa as well as areas in which malaria is not as present. As the climate becomes warmer, that allows malaria-carrying mosquitoes to survive in places such as Europe, areas of Colombia, and even in Russia. (According to the BBC, Russians found larvae of the anopheles mosquito, the malaria carrier, for the first time in Moscow last September.)
The warmer air of increased temperatures can also create more smog, which, in turn, could increase smog-related deaths. In fact, Canadian doctors say that deaths associated with smog could increase as much as 80 percent over the next 20 years (CBS News).
According to an MSNBC report, doctors believe that global warming could also increase all forms of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks. Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, chief of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University, explains why: “The hardening of the heart’s arteries is like rust developing on a car. Rust develops much more quickly at warm temperatures and so does atherosclerosis.” (MSNBC Report, “Global Warming Might Hurt Your Heart,” September 5, 2007.) Note: Atherosclerosis is the physically hardening or calcifying of a person’s arteries—causing a person’s heart to become hard as stone. Atherosclerosis is a common form of arteriosclerosis in which fatty substances form a deposit of plaque on the inner lining of arterial walls.
And that’s not all . . . a report in the Washington Post (“Climate Change Drives Disease to New Territory,” May 5, 2006) warns of a resurgence in new and old deadly diseases, some, they note, that have not been seen since the Industrial Revolution, when droves of people migrated to and inhabited cities. According to the report, global warming “is fueling the spread of epidemics in areas unprepared for the diseases” when “mosquitoes, ticks, mice and other carriers are surviving warmer winters and expanding their range, bringing health threats with them.”
And they could be right. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), it has identified more than 30 new or resurgent diseases in the last three decades. Diseases the WHO has cited include malaria, Dengue Fever, West Nile virus, cholera, Lyme Disease, and tick-borne encephalitis.
As our planet warms up, so could negative health implications. It’s time to do all we can to avoid the many adverse effects of global warming—and the time to start is today