As global warming affects the environment, it should not be surprising that it affects the health of the people living in that environment. Changes in the climate are changes in the habitats not only for animals, but for people as well. Climate changes are already impacting people’s health.
Global warming has caused intense heating up of the environment. In areas where people are not prepared for extreme heat, there have been devastating heat waves recently. There were heat flare-ups in Europe in 2003 which lasted as long as two weeks at a time. Temperatures soared upwards of 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperatures like this are common in parts of the American Southwest, for example. People are well-equipped to deal with the heat because that is the climate zone they are living in. However, Europe is usually much cooler. Residents there were not ready for such temperatures. Over 35,000 people died in Europe as a result of the heat waves that year. Global warming had changed their habitat, so to speak.
There have also been heat waves in North America. One in 2006 claimed 226 lives. Another probable result of global warming is increased pollen in the air. This happens because higher levels of carbon dioxide encourage the growth of more pollen-producing weeds. Because more pollen means worse air quality, those with allergies and asthma suffer.
Global warming can also affect the incidence of tropical disease. Mosquitoes have been found in places that were once too cold for them. High elevations, such as mountains were once free of disease-carrying mosquitoes.
However, as the warmth climbs higher up the mountain, so do the mosquitoes. The mosquitoes carry malaria to new regions of Indonesia because of global warming. Dengue fever has reached elevations in the Andean Mountains of Colombia where it was never seen before.
Other health concerns related to global warming revolve around flooding. When sudden storms and flooding occur, it is often impossible to get ill or injured people to medical facilities in time to help them.
Often, people take dangerous risks during floods. They drive into water, thinking that they can make it across. When they do not, they can get swept away and drowned. There is no graver consequence of global warming than death, of course.
People are also left with messes to clean up after floods. This can result in exposure to high levels of mold. Many people will have intense allergic reactions to mold. The person can have hives all over the body. Sometimes, the tongue will swell and cut off breathing. It is a serious condition. Curtailing global warming would lessen the incidence of flooding and prevent this many times.
Since global warming can have an affect on the food supply, it is obvious that people can suffer from malnutrition because of this. This is especially true in agrarian societies in underdeveloped countries.
If all people knew how much global warming can affect their health, they might be more prone to working on a solution. Until then, those who understand the ramifications of global warming will have to work even harder.