We all are aware of the consequences that global warming and climate change may have on our planet. Adding to the terrifying possibilities in the next 30 years which includes among others melting of ice sheets in West Antarctica and Greenland, extinction of species, increased frequency of flood and draughts, and lesser availability of freshwater.
A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that extreme climate changes are most likely to cause 250,000 additional deaths annually between 2030 to 2050.
In this article we learn about how climate change impacts human health and take a look at the measures that we can adapt to minimize the impact of climate change on our health.
Impact of Climate change on Human Health
Adverse climatic conditions are speculated to lead to land degradation and water crisis by 2050 which implies a sharp reduction in agricultural land and thus, lesser food for the increasing population. Not only this, climate change shall directly affect human life by leading to factors such as increased stress, increased rate of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, seasonal diseases and post traumatic stress disorders due to natural calamities.
Given below are some direct impacts on health due to change in climatic conditions:
- Trigger more diseases-
The rate of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases shall take a leap ahead due to heat waves and air pollution. Vector-borne diseases like malaria shall also be on the rise since more rains will come with increased risk of water-borne disease. Higher humidity may be the reason for the increased rate of infectious diseases such as Lyme disease. Global warming and rising carbon dioxide levels and other pollutants shall trigger other health concerns and allergic reactions and dermatological problems. It is also likely to make way for viruses such as Flu.
Climate change impacts agriculture World statistics reveal that close to 800 million people worldwide go hungry and around 2 billion people suffer from malnutrition. The obvious reason for hunger and malnutrition has to do directly with the increasing population for which the agriculture sector cannot provide for enough. More climate changes would mean higher rainfall, flood or draught in extreme cases which is bad for the crops and thus, will lead to lesser production. For instance, among the developing countries, Bangladesh is an agro-based country and also extremely vulnerable to climate change. Frequent changes in the climate lower the production of rice and therefore, rice import becomes mandatory which in turn increases the prices of rice. As a result, people spend less on nutritious food, giving a way to malnutrition.
- Increased mental health issues-
Severe mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression accompany climatic devastations in all parts of the world. There is always an overwhelming emotion that people deal with whenever some news from any corner of the world breaks in highlighting the loss of human life and other possessions due to a highly impactful natural disaster. Everything from the summer heat waves, severe wildfires, hurricanes, floods and other disasters which are caused due to the sudden shift in climate are traumatic to say the least.
- Emerging health issues- Climate change is responsible for causing extreme events such heat-waves and draught which are two major natural killers that have claimed the lives of numerous people in the US since 1980. There have been numerous instances across the world which reflects the picture of the future such as the European heat-wave of 2003, the Rift Valley Fever in Africa, Hurricane Katrina in the US in 2005, cholera epidemic in Bangladesh, Malaria in the East African Highlands and more. Thus, breaking of an epidemic is more common than ever today and the reason is frequent fluctuations in the climate.
Health Tips to Deal with Climate Change
Now that we know how adversely climate change can affect human life, it is important that we take effective measures to minimize the health impacts of climate change. The points given below emphasize on the best ways to deal with climate change:
- Focus on your diet-
Eating healthy is an important factor when it comes to maintaining good health. Have food that is rich in proteins and vitamins to keep you going throughout the day. Cut out on the sugar intake as much as possible and avoid junk food as well as processed foods. It is important that you plan your meals and make sure you consume just as many calories as you require daily, no less.
- Stay hydrated- Consume at least 2 liters of water in a day so as to flush those toxins out of your body. You may also replace water with fruit juices, coconut water, healthy shakes and other health drinks such as green tea etc.
- Have adequate sleep-
Today, stress, anxiety and hypertension can easily make their way to our daily lives and therefore, unwinding after a hard day at work is important. We must sleep well and allow our body to heal. Sound sleep is also a remedy to stress and fatigue.
- Exercise- Exercising daily not only burns excess calories but also ensures improved blood circulation, greater immunity to shield you against climate change and the diseases that come with it. It also contributes to making the joints and muscles strong. You may also sit back and meditate after your routine exercise.
- Go for regular check-ups-
It is recommended that you go to your physician for a general health check-up in every six months and address your health concerns. Take note of your doctor’s advice and follow the medications prescribed. Keep your doctor informed about any health concern that you might be facing due to climate change.
Climate change is a worldwide concern and it is our responsibility to be aware and spread the awareness about what might follow. While severe climate changes in the forthcoming years manifest signs of atrophied human health, we can do our part and gather the required information on the same to be able to deal with it in the future.