Climate Change is Killing Us
Yes, global warming is making heat waves hotter and more frequent. But beyond just making it hotter, melting glaciers, destroying ocean ecosystems, and endangering animals (as if that wasn’t enough), climate change is also having a negative impact on your health.
Climate change affects human health in a number of ways, as it impacts the availability of drinking water, sufficient food, and secure shelter. Already we’ve seen extreme droughts, flooding, agricultural failures, and heat waves stemming from the changing climate, but there’s more than that.
Heat and Suicide
A new study by Stanford University professors shows an alarming correlation between temperature and rates of suicide in the U.S. and Mexico.
According to the study’s authors, this correlation is observable as far back at the 1800’s and is independent of other risk factors, such as socioeconomic status and mental health history.
This unforeseen and jarring health consequence of climate change is something that researchers are only starting to understand, and this study was a large step forward on that path. More research is needed to see if the correlation exists in other areas of the world, but in the U.S. and Mexico the results are clear.
It's Getting Hot in Here
Heat waves, like the one over the Fourth of July this year, are indeed one of the most common causes of weather-related deaths, leading to dehydration and stroke, especially among young children and older adults who are more vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
Hotter temperatures also lead to more usage of air conditioning, which increases air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In cities, this quickly becomes a health risk. Such concentrated pollution is a huge contributor to climate change–related deaths; ground-level ozone—a central component of smog—is linked to a multitude of serious health problems and death.
Hard to Breathe
Climate change has been linked to deteriorating air quality. More than 133 million Americans live in regions that don’t meet the national standards for air quality. And in other countries, like China, the air pollution is worse: 1.6 million Chinese people die every year from air pollution. The smog is being called “Airpocalypse,” and in January of 2017, the Air Quality Index rating was over 700 in Beijing, compared to a rating of 43 in New York City three days later.
Those numbers are shocking, but unfortunately we can only expect them to increase unless we start taking climate change seriously.
On the Other Side of the Blue Ball
The World Health Organization estimates that climate change’s impact will cause an additional 250,000 deaths every year between the years 2030 and 2050. These deaths will mainly be due to malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress in developing countries.
Although climate change is affecting everyone, it is not affecting everyone equally. Those who live in developing countries are more vulnerable to the effects because of a lack of health infrastructure. While Americans struggle to combat the heat with air conditioning, those in Africa don’t have the means to withstand or recover from the heat. In fact, many have already been forced to abandon their homes as they look elsewhere for resources zapped by climate change.
Planet Aid is committed to helping these people by saving resources and reducing waste that contributes to climate change and supporting sustainable development projects that help the poor obtain the means to survive. You can find out more about Planet Aid’s commitment on our What We Do page.See All Blog Posts