Climate change is something we have heard about for years. One thing I did not realize is how much it affects our global health. The World Health Organization states that the earth temperature has increased 0.85 degrees censuses, which is 33.5 degrees Fahrenheit, over the last 130 years. “Over the last 50 years, human activities – particularly the burning of fossil fuels – have released sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to trap additional heat in the lower atmosphere and affect the global climate” (World Health Organization, 2018). With the rising temperatures our ice glaciers continue to melt causing rising in sea levels which in result are causing increasing in precipitation and extreme weather conditions. “Climate change affects social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter” (World Health Organization, 2018).
Higher temperatures are causing increased levels of ozone and other pollutants in the air and are resulting in higher incidence in respiratory and cardiovascular disease. It is also causing increased natural disasters which are leading to increased deaths due to homes, medical facilities, and other essential facilities being destroyed. Another affect of climate change is variable rainfall which can cause drought and higher incidence of floods which contaminate drinking water. “Climatic conditions strongly affect water-borne diseases and diseases transmitted through insects, snails or other cold blooded animals” (World Health Organization, 2018). According to the World Health Organization, Malaria is strongly related to climate causing 400,000 deaths per year.
The World Health Organization continues to work on ways to prepare its communities to protect against climate change. They also state, “Many policies and individual choices have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce major health co-benefits. For example, cleaner energy systems, and promoting the safe use of public transportation and active movement – such as cycling or walking as alternatives to using private vehicles – could reduce carbon emissions, and cut the burden of household air pollution, which causes some 4.3 million deaths per year, and ambient air pollution, which causes about 3 million deaths every year” (World Health Organization, 2018). What we can do to help is to talk to our patients about how climate change effects their health and how they can help and try to protect themselves, use more economical friendly equipment and limit medical waste to decrease pollution and teach patients and families how to prepare and protect themselves from natural disasters