Earth Day, Climate Change, and Health

To recognize Earth Day tomorrow, I stitched together some of the health risks associated with climate change that I’ve mentioned in past posts.


Because I can’t say this enough: Asthma sufferers like AG are the canaries in this potential coal mine of a planet.

Her respiratory issues may prompt me to advocate for clean, renewable energy and conservation more so than some lucky parents of healthy kids, but climate change won’t be all that selective if it gets bad enough. While my daughter likely feels the affects of dirty air and a warmer Earth first, other children (and adults) like her sister may follow.

Health Risks of Climate Change

1. Warmer temperatures can generate extreme weather and increase natural disasters like Katrina that endanger the food and water supply and disease control.

2. Warmer temps also increase the mosquito population and therefore the malaria risk.

3. Abnormal heat waves and cold spells kill vulnerable people, usually through cardiopulmonary problems. (see: European heat wave, 2003)

4. Increased levels and changing patterns of airborne particles (both pollen and pollutants) can worsen allergies, asthma, and other respiratory disorders.

5. Rising sea levels displace communities and increase vector-borne diseases (ex: malaria) and waterborne diseases (ex: cholera).

6. Changing rainfall patterns can increase the chance of water contamination, threatening the safe water supply for communities.

7. Unreliable weather threatens crops in places already plagued by malnutrition.

8. Hotter temps increase ground-level ozone, which worsens asthma, COPD, and lung function.

It’s not all bad news, though. Just like with the increased asthma prevalence of the past several decades, the critical climate change issue means money is pouring in and some of the best thinkers and most innovative businesses today are focusing on solutions, even if my country’s president isn’t.

Check out Saturday’s post for ideas on how to fight global warming yourself, and stop by tomorrow for some of the more unusual ways to contribute.

WHO: 10 Facts on Climate Change and Health
CDC: Climate Change and Public Health – Health Effects

5 responses to “Earth Day, Climate Change, and Health”

  1. Asthmagirl says:

    I’m with you on numbers 4 and 8. Air quality plays such a huge part in my asthma. I wonder if other non allergic asthmatics have the same sensitivity to particulate and ozone?

  2. kristi says:

    The health risks you’ve listed are the little-known affects of climate change, and yet they’re so incredibly important. Thank you for taking the time to research and compile these. I’m linking to this post from my blog tomorrow.

  3. Amy says:

    AG does, but mostly on the hottest days and only if she’s exercising really hard. If she runs in August, for example, when ozone pollution’s at it worst, she usually needs her inhaler. Allergens never bother her, but if I can see the haze, I’m always on alert.

    Thanks, Kristi!

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