Global warming. We’ve all been lectured on it. It’s the reason we recycle and buy environment-friendly products. We hear about its effects like melting ice caps, and droughts, but those who don’t live in the arctic or California are not directly affected by it, yet. The exception being warmer winter days, a bittersweet side effect that’s hard to be mad at. But at this rate, we will all soon experience the effects, whether it’s directly or indirectly with global warming health risks.
Global Warming Health Risks – Water
People cannot survive without it, but neither can animals nor plants. And there are various parts of the world coping with heat waves that are causing extreme and long-lasting droughts. As temperatures rise, so do the number of heat-related deaths and hospitalizations. And as science tells us that with every action there is an equal reaction.
Due to excessive rainfall, there are water sources that are overflowing, increasing the chances of runoff and contamination. Which can lead to a plethora of illnesses and issues, from diarrhea to kidney damage. Changes in climate can also compromise the quality of the water beside direct contamination.
Waterborne pathogens like cryptosporidium and Giardia, and bacteria like Vibrio or algal toxins will prosper and grow in the right conditions. In addition to water’s fluctuating temperature, it can lead to higher concentrations of mercury in seafood. Besides bacteria and pathogens, vectorborne diseases also thrive in warm and wet environments. So we can easily come across another superbug epidemic.
Global Warming Health Risks – Air
Like water, shifts in climate can affect air quality, putting those with respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses directly at risk. As airborne allergens, pollutants, and rising carbon dioxide levels increase, so do global warming health risks.
There is a sneaking suspicion among scientists that ground-level ozone levels will increase, as will its frequency, due to fluctuations in climate. Exposure to the harmful air pollutant can inflame airways and damage lung tissue and reduce its function. Therefore, those with respiratory illnesses are at higher risk of suffering from complications and even death. If there is no change in current air quality policies, researchers predict illnesses and deaths to increase well into the thousands by 2030.
Not only are our lungs at risk, but so is the quality of our food. An increase of carbon monoxide levels makes food safety and quality a major concern. Bacteria thrive in warmer environments meaning that bacteria-related food poisonings like salmonella do too. Although it can act as a fertilizer, carbon monoxide can also decrease crops’ nutritional value.