Climate Change and Health | Alarming Causes and Effects of Climate Change on Social &
Environmental Determinants

Climate Change and Health | Alarming Causes and Effects of Climate Change on Social & Environmental Determinants

greenhouse effect, the rise of temperature, climate change causing natural disaster, ocean warming, melting ice sheets, sea-level rise, health issues like safe drinking water and sanitation, air pollution, food security

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.

According to WHO, Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress.

What is the Greenhouse Effect?

The greenhouse effect is warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space.

How Greenhouse occurs?

1) Sunlight reaches the earth, some energy is reflected back into space,

2)And, Some energy is absorbed and re-radiated as heat, but most of the heat is absorbed by greenhouse gases and then radiated in all directions, warming the earth.

Greenhouse Gases :

Certain gases in the atmosphere block heat from escaping. Gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect include water vapor, CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, CFC.

Climate Change Causing Natural Disasters Patterns:

Global Temperature Rise:

In 2019, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.71°F (0.95°C) above the twentieth-century average of 57.0°F (13.9°C), making it the second-warmest year on record.

Ocean Warming:

The ocean absorbs most of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions, leading to rising ocean temperature.

Increasing ocean temperatures affect marine species and ecosystems.

According to NASA,

Warming seas and Melting Ice Sheets:

The basic science, when the ice on land melts and water runs into the ocean, the sea level rises.

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass.

The Greenland Ice Sheet, spanning 1.7 million square kilometers has the potential to raise the world's oceans by more than 20 feet. Greenland fell out of balance in the 1990s and is now shedding more ice in the summer than it gains back in the winter.

The Antarctic Ice Sheet covers nearly 5.4 million square miles, an area larger than the United States and India combined, and contains enough ice to raise the ocean level by about 190 feet.

Sea Level Rise:

Sea level rise is caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms.

Climate change causing Social and health issues:

Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation:

Water and food contamination will become a greater public concern particularly in areas where the vast majority of the population do not have access to improved sanitation

1) Under climatic stress, water infrastructure can be damaged, and surface water inundated and polluted.

2) Seven in ten of the 159 million people depending on water taken directly from rivers, lakes, and other surface water.

For example, 319 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are still using unimproved drinking water sources, including unprotected wells and springs and surface water.

Air Pollution:

Air quality is strongly dependent on weather and is therefore sensitive to climate change. Air pollution consists of two parts :

1) Indoor air pollution: It usually results from the burning of wood, coal, or paraffin for space heating, cooking, and lighting purposes.

2) Outdoor air pollution:  It largely results from fossil fuel combustion for transport, and electricity generation, industrial non-fossil fuel emissions, and other human activities.

For example, the use of biomass and charcoal as cooking and heating fuel in rural parts of developing countries is the second most important environmental cause of the disease after contaminated water and more than one-third of all child deaths caused by indoor air pollution occurs on the African continent.

Food Security, Safety, and Nutrition:

Changes in rainfall patterns, temperature, sea level and flooding of coastal lands, seasonality, and drought affect food production and security

For example, in 2010, 31 million people were affected by drought because of a poor rainy season in the Sahel.

In addition to their effects on food security,35 weather and climate affect the nutritional value and safety of food.

For example, outbreaks of mycotoxins, which contaminate food supplies and can cause high levels of morbidity and mortality, occur in unusually warm and humid years.

Spreading Deadly Diseases:

The distribution and intensity of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, lymphatic filariasis, dengue, Rift Valley fever, are heavily affected by climate change.

For example, WHO estimates that in 2012, 90% of the estimated 627,000 deaths attributable to malaria worldwide occurred in the African region.
In 2014, Seychelles faced an outbreak of dengue following heavy rains that caused flooding in many areas in the country.

Consequences of Climate Change in the future :

  • On average, Earth will become warmer by passing year.
  • A stronger greenhouse effect will warm the ocean and partially melt glaciers and ice sheets, increasing sea level. Ocean water also will expand if it warms, contributing further to sea-level rise.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can have adverse effects on crop yields.
  • Climate extremes, such as droughts, floods, and extreme temperatures, can lead to crop losses and threaten the livelihoods of agricultural producers and the food security of communities worldwide.
  • Crop and ecosystem, weeds, pests, and fungi can also thrive under warmer temperatures, wetter climates, and increased CO2 levels, and climate change will likely increase weeds and pests.
  • Research has shown that it can also reduce the nutritional value of most food crops by reducing the concentrations of protein and essential minerals in most plant species.