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Severe Health Impacts

Severe Health Impacts

Climate change is an increasingly hot topic in the news, with scientists warning that if left unchecked and unstopped, it could drastically alter the conditions in which humans live. Unfortunately, the effects of climate change extend far beyond the changes it causes to the environment. It can also cause a raft of severe health impacts, the severity of which may surprise some.

Climate change is already being felt in terms of health risks, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) stating that the “health effects (of climate change) are inextricably linked to the world’s greatest health challenges, such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, malnutrition and infectious diseases.”

Severe Health Impacts

Heatwaves and other extreme weather events

One of the most immediately recognisable health effects of climate change is the increased occurrence of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves. In a temperature-controlled world, such events can cause problems for both people and animals, who may struggle to cope with their new environment.

Heatwaves, in particular, can be incredibly dangerous, even deadly, for the elderly and the vulnerable. According to the European Environment Agency, “heat stress due to heatwaves is the biggest cause for premature mortality due to climate change” in Europe.

Air Quality and Pollution

A lesser-known but no less serious health effect of climate change is its role in contributing to various forms of air pollution. According to the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, climate-change-driven air pollution and the worsening of conditions such as asthma “are predicted to be among the most important consequences of global climate change in the next few decades”.

Particularly in urban areas and near busy roads, air pollution can be a major cause of health problems. Pollution is known to cause respiratory problems, palpitations and headaches, amongst other ailments.

Spread of Disease

An often overlooked risk of climate change is the potential for it to facilitate the spread of disease and parasites. As temperatures increase and weather patterns change, disease-carrying insects, viruses, bacteria and parasites will be able to extend their range and infect more people.

The CDC states that “warmer temperatures influence the geographic range and seasonal abundance of many infectious diseases, creating new opportunities for pathogens and pests to spread to new areas”. Diseases that were previously confined to certain geographical areas may well spread further in the wake of climate change, causing previously unknown problems to affect a great number of people.

Allergic reactions

The increased air pollution caused by climate change may also exacerbate allergic reactions in people. According to the European Environmental Agency, “Among children, allergic sensitisation is accelerated by air pollution, including relatively low concentrations of air pollutants”.

The effects of climate change on allergic reactions can be felt differently by different people. Some people may find they are slightly more sensitive to allergens, while others may Developpe more severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing and palpitations.

Mental Health

The effects of climate change are also felt in terms of mental health. Many people are feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the prospect of an ever-changing climate, with the effects of climate change being felt all over the world.

According to the American Psychological Association, “psychological distress associated with climate change includes feelings of fear, helplessness, despair and fatalism”, with the most affected populations being those living in areas most affected by extreme weather events.

Climate change is set to have a huge effect on the planet and the people that inhabit it. This is due to the negative and serious health effects it can produce. From the spread of disease and the exacerbation of allergic reactions to heatwaves and air pollution, the health impacts of climate change should not be underestimated or overlooked.

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