SOLUTION: ES 274 Climate change and Public health Paper
SOLUTION: ES 274 Climate change and Public health Paper.
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Climate Change and Public Health
A report made in 2018 by the World Health Organization (WHO) explained the causes of
climate change. The burning of fossil fuels causes the liberation of carbon dioxide (CO2) and
other gases —known as greenhouse gases. These trap the additional heat in the lower atmosphere
and affect the global climate. This phenomenon caused an increase in the global temperature of
approximately 0.85 ªC in the last 130 years! The last three decades have been successively
warmer than any preceding decade since 1850. Sea levels have risen, glaciers are melting, and
extreme weather events are more intense and frequent than ever. There are several evident
consequences. Regarding public health —our topic of interest, there are some localized benefits.
A rise in the global temperature will cause fewer winter deaths in temperate climate zones and
increased food productions in some areas. The negative effects are overwhelming. One of the
effects is the redistribution of patterns of infections caused by water-borne diseases and diseases
transmitted through insects, snails, and other cold-blooded animals. One of the most dangerous
diseases is Malaria, a tropical disease strongly influenced by climate. It is a parasitical illness
transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes. Malaria kills over 400 000 people every year. The most
vulnerable are children under five years of age in some African countries. Dengue is another
commonly found tropical disease caused by a virus and transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. Like
malaria, dengue is highly sensitive to climate conditions. Some studies suggest that climate
change will likely continue to increase exposure to dengue. Said tropical diseases, as well as
water-borne illnesses, cause diarrhea, which in turn causes dehydration. The measuring of the
health effects from climate change can only be very approximate, a WHO assessment concluded
that climate change will cause about 250 000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050.
48 000 of those deaths are due to diarrhea and 60 000 are due to malaria (World Health
Organization, 2018). As stated by Polgreen and Polgreen (2017), “weather conditions like
rainfall, flooding, humidity, and heatwaves have well-documented effects on infectious
diseases”. When it rains for a long time, vector-borne diseases have more opportunities to spread.
Longer seasons of mild temperatures increase the transmission likelihood of vector-borne
diseases. And in warmer temperatures, vectors become infectious faster and can transmit the
illness previously in their lives. On the other hand, standing water after large amounts of rain
facilitates the growth of mosquito populations (Polgreen & Polgreen, 2018). Template countries
are usually unaffected by tropical diseases. Unless citizens of said countries travel to the tropics,
the likelihood of contracting these diseases and spreading them in their homelands is limited.
Climate change is causing a dangerous drift. A study by Frumkin et al in 2008 spoke about an
alarming situation. In 2001 there was an outbreak of Cryptococcus gattii in British Columbia. It
was previously considered to be a tropical organism. It should be a waking call for people all
over the globe (Frumkin et al, 2008). All of these conditions, among many more, need to be
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