The Human Health Impacts of Climate Change

January 5th, 2012 BY ChrisD | No Comments
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Scientists have documented the effects of climate change in terms of total emissions and specifically, carbon dioxide emissions. They have warned about the consequences to the planet if current trends that show a steady increase in greenhouse gases in 2010 and 2011 continue. They speak of effects to ocean levels, salinity and coastal erosion. However, climate change carries an additional cost.

Researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand looked at the effects of climate changes and its effects on tropospheric ozone and particulate matter. Both conditions can cause respiratory health issues in humans and exacerbate existing health problems. It can reduce lung function and irritate and damage the lining of the lungs. In addition, it can aggravate asthma, bronchitis and other chronic lung diseases.

The scientists concluded that warming surface air temperatures could lead to a rise in human health impacts in part due to an increase in chemical reaction rates. This can affects how pollutants mix in the atmosphere, perhaps leading to an increase in ozone. Respiratory health issues may worsen. This can usher in more serious health consequences, such as increases in chronic health conditions and premature mortality.

Air pollution already is believed to be responsible for over three million deaths worldwide each year. In addition, the World Health Organization estimates that 7.9 million disability-adjusted life-years are lost due to urban air pollution. These findings show that even in its present state, the global atmosphere is already negatively affecting human populations.

The University of Auckland study projected increases in ozone in high-income countries, with its ensuing effects. Conclusions regarding other countries were less clear due to a lack of data. Regardless of additional evidence, human health will suffer with an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, particulate matter and other toxic chemicals.

This research reveals that the stakes of climate change are profound. While skeptics debate the issue, humans continue to wage the battle against unseen forces and risk their health in the process. People can move from areas affected by changes in ocean waters or shoreline erosion. They cannot flee from air quality issues.

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