EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON HEALTH 7
Climate change has had numerous effects across the world. Changes intemperature, amount of rainfall and air content has affected thequality of health. There are varied health concerns in U.S. and otherdeveloped, as well as developing countries, that are directly relatedto climate change. Health concerns range from heat-related illnesses,respiratory illnesses, to cardiovascular diseases (McMichael, 2014).Extensive research has indicated that different people are affectedin varied ways by climate change. People in the developing countriesare more affected by changes in climate than people in developedcountries who are able to mitigate the effects. The youngsters,elderly, the sick and people who engage in outdoor activities such asathletes are likely to be severely affected by climate changeimpacts. Furthermore, people who reside in high latitudes experienceextreme climate change impacts such as severe temperatures.
Heat stroke is one of the major health concerns in the U.S. relatedto climate change. In the recent years, all the states in the U.S.and the District of Colombia have experienced significant changes intemperature. Increased temperatures have resulted in heat relatedillnesses mainly heat stroke. There are thousands of deaths recordedannually resulting from heat stroke. The U.S. Global Change ResearchProgram opined that the American people are vulnerable to heatchanges (Epstein & Ferber, 2015). However, the elderly, children,the sick and the poor are likely to experience the impact more.Primarily, the urban areas such as Chicago and Philadelphiaexperience severe heat-related problems than the rural areas.Therefore, there are more heat related deaths in these areas than inthe rural areas. Considering that the temperatures continue to rise,it is clear that if the issue is not tackled, there will more deathsfrom heat stroke during the summer periods. It is estimated that by2050, the temperature will have rose by 2oc.
Climate change in the U.S. has also led to air pollution. Airquality has changed and this has resulted in air-related healthconcerns. Top among them is asthma. Air that is concentrated withdust particles, smoke and other fine particles is likely to causeasthma. The air pollution from carbon dioxide emissions has resultedin numerous cases of asthma in the U.S. The Centers for DiseaseControl has asserted that there are over 24 million Americans withasthma. Considering that this disease has no cure, it is clear thatthe government must take it with the seriousness it deserves(McMichael, 2014). Even though the condition does not always resultto death, it is essential to note that in some severe cases, asthmahas been deadly.
Due to the magnitude of these health issues, the U.S. has put forthnumerous efforts to combat climate change. Efforts to resort to cleanenergy sources such as solar energy are in top gear. The U.S.government has installed thousands of acres of solar panels inCalifornia to produce clean energy. This is aimed at reducing theemission of carbon dioxide from fuel energy sources (Epstein &Ferber, 2015). The U.S Environmental Protection Agency has devisedvaried policies to reduce green house gas emission. The EPA has alsopartnered with the private sector in a bid to have concerted effortsgeared towards reducing pollution. Furthermore, the U.S. governmentoffers tariffs to homesteads using solar energy. This is coupled withthe reduced prices of solar panels.
Australia is a developed country whose heat-related illnesses canrelate to those of the U.S. The country’s most populated areas suchas urban centers have recorded some of the highest temperatures.Notably, the western and the southern regions of the country areseverely affected by heat waves. This is unlike in the U.S. whereheat waves are evenly distributed across all the states. Numerousdeaths have resulted from heat strokes and dehydration in Australiaespecially in the month of January. Documented research has indicatedthat heat-related illnesses are the number of killer above all otherhazards in Australia. Clearly, the U.S. and Australia seem to sharecommon experiences about heat-related illnesses. Due to the severityof this issue, the Australian government must come up with strategiesthat will control the heat waves and protect the vulnerable peoplesuch as children, the sick and the elderly (Luber & Lemery,2015). The Australian government has embarked on the implementationof policies that will distribute constructions and settlements acrossthe country rather than having millions of people in the cities. Thecountry has also embarked on efforts geared towards reducing carbondioxide emissions. It is strictly following and even surpassing theKyoto Protocol agreement amongst nations.
Poor air quality in Australia is a leading cause of asthma. Theheavy reliance on fuel as a source of energy has led to the increasedemission of carbon dioxide. As a result, the air has beencontaminated with dust and other fine particles as it remainsstagnant from the high temperatures (McMichael, 2014). Over 2 millionpeople are infected with asthma and over 400 people die every yearfrom asthma in Australia. There is no doubt that this is a seriousissue that requires the attention of the government. This isexacerbated by the fact that these deaths can be prevented byenhancing the quality of air.
The climate change health-related issues affecting the developedcountries such as the U.S. and Australia are also affectingdeveloping nations such as India. Since 2010, India has experiencedthe worst effects of climate change after losing over 5700 people ofits people from heat stroke and dehydration. A fifth of these deathsoccurred in Andhra Pradesh and about 10 % of them occurred in Punjab(Luber & Lemery, 2015). Clearly, these are highly populatedregions in the country. The over-reliance on fuel as a source ofenergy and the high population are contributors to the extremetemperatures in India. Evidently, the developing countries do nothave effective strategies such as air conditioners to deal with heatwaves. Furthermore, most of the people in developing countries workoutdoors as opposed to developed countries. The number of deaths inIndia from heat stroke is huge and if unchecked, there could be moredeaths. The people are desperate and they have to alternatives thanto suffer and eventually die.
Due to the severe environmental pollution in India, there areapproximately 10 million people with asthma. This is a tenth of theword’s asthma patients. Doctors in India have attributed thisnumber to the air pollution from industries and cars. In India’surban centers, the air is no longer clear due to impurities such assmoke (McMichael, 2014). Clearly, the country has no policies thatcan control the emission of smoke into the atmosphere. Some of theefforts by the country to reduce emissions are plantations of trees,energy efficiency and resorting to solar energy.
Public health nurses can play a proactive role in trying toalleviate the health concerns related to climate change. Firstly,nurses can create awareness among the public regarding the steps theycan take during heat waves. For instance, having air conditioninstallations can help reduce heat effects in the body. It is alsoimportant to drink a lot of water during heat waves. With regards toasthma, public nurse should inform their patients of the some of thefoods that can help manage the disease (Luber & Lemery, 2015).Fatty foods and daily products are effective for asthma patients.Additionally, it is prudent for public nurses to inform the people onthe risk factors of ailments such as cancer. Avoiding dusty placesand smoke inhalation are essential in reducing the risk for asthma.Lastly, public nurses can participate in policy development aimed atregulating air pollution and climate change. Nurse unions can workwith the government and enlighten it on the health effects ofallowing some vices such as emission of carbon dioxide.
While concluding, it is clear that there is a direct relationshipbetween climate change and health. Climate change has led to directand indirect health concerns. However, heat strokes and asthma aredirect effects of climate change that have resulted in the deaths ofthe hundreds of thousands of people. U.S.A., Australia and India arecountries in different regions, but which suffer uniformly fromclimate change. However, India suffers more from climate change thanthe developed countries. Governments must put in place specificmeasures aimed at reducing emission of carbon dioxide into theatmosphere.
Epstein, P. R., & Ferber, D. (2015). Changing planet,changing health: How the climate crisis threatens ourhealth and what we can do about it. Berkeley, Calif: Universityof California Press.
Luber, G., & Lemery, J. (2015). Global climate change andhuman health: From science to practice. SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass.
McMichael, A. J. (2014). Climate change and human health:Risks and responses. Geneva: World Health Organization.