The Impact of Climate Change and Its Affects on Human Health

Illustration on what climate change can do to the enviprnent by showing trees
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Climate Change Overview

Climate change is one of our planet’s most pressing issues, and its significance cannot be overstated. It is a global problem that affects every aspect of our lives, from the environment to the economy, and if left unchecked, it has the potential to cause devastating consequences.

Global warming directly affects human and animal life by making our environment hotter, dirtier, and more unpredictable. Increasing hotter weather can make us all sick, especially the elderly. It also makes the air dirtier, which can cause breathing problems like asthma.

Climate change also disturbs our planet’s natural environment. For example, insects that spread diseases like malaria and Lyme disease are moving to new locations, affecting more people who have never been exposed to these diseases before. Sometimes, there’s too much rain or not enough, which can interfere with our food and water supply. Bad storms and disasters are occurring more often. To stay healthy, we must stop climate change and care for each other.

This essay will explore why climate change is so important and why urgent action is necessary to mitigate its effects.

The Environment

Photo of an oil drill
Wikipedia

First and foremost, climate change, also known as global warming, poses a major threat to our ecosystem. The Earth’s climate is a complex entity, and any changes can have far-reaching consequences.

The continuous rise in greenhouse emissions, such as pollutants from cars, planes, and industrial complexes, is raising temperatures

For example, rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns can lead to more frequent natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts, which can destroy homes and infrastructure.

The temperature has risen about 1.8 degrees F (1 C) over the last century, but most of this rise has occurred within the last four decades.

If this small rise in temperature doesn’t sound significant, it is and has already caused numerous global issues. 

The natural disasters occurring because of this can also lead to a significant economic burden, as governments and individuals would be forced to spend billions of dollars to rebuild damaged infrastructure and homes, as discussed later in this article.

Upsetting the Balance of Nature

Life-on-planet-earth-orange-and-white-koi-fish-near-yellow-koi-fish
Orange and white koi-fish near-yellow koi-fish-

Wildlife will not be immune to this changing environment. As temperatures rise, it is becoming increasingly difficult for some animals to adapt. Some species could become endangered or even go extinct, and even now, polar bears are struggling to find food as the Arctic ice melts, and coral reefs are dying due to rising ocean temperatures. 

The potential results can have problematic effects on our crops and agriculture. Crop failures will lead to increased food prices and potential famine in certain parts of the world, and disruptions in supply chains can lead to food and water shortages.

A negative change in the climate will also cause sea levels to rise, which can lead to flooding and erosion of coastlines, further exacerbating the damage caused by natural disasters. 

The Human Effect

Woman showing amazment
Unsplash

Climate change can significantly impact our health. As temperatures rise, so does the risk of heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke and dehydration.

Increased air pollution due to industrialization and deforestation can result in respiratory problems, heart disease, and even cancer. It can also spread diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, as warmer temperatures create more favorable conditions for disease-carrying insects to proprogate and spread to new regions.

Poor air quality resulting from increased pollution can also exacerbate the situation. Respiratory problems such as asthma may become more common and can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

These health issues will disproportionately affect vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing medical conditions. In populated communities, such as large cities, they can increase exponentially.

The Economy

As extreme weather events become more frequent, there is an increasing risk of damage to infrastructure, such as buildings, roads, and bridges. In addition, its impact on food prices will be detrimental worldwide. Building sea walls and other protective infrastructure is likely to be more common and subsequently very costly.

Is There Light At the End of the Climate Tunnel?

Wind Turbines
Wind Turbines

The transition to a low-carbon economy can create economic opportunities, such as developing renewable energy sources and creating green jobs. ant economic issue. The effects of climate change can disrupt agriculture, leading to lower crop yields and higher food prices. This can disproportionately impact low-income countries, where agriculture is a significant part of the economy. 

What You Can Do About It!

Given climate change’s significant impacts on the environment, human health, and the economy, we must take action to address this problem. The good news is that individuals, governments, and businesses can do many things to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Here are some of the more prominent advocacy groups that you can join to help mitigate climate change and reduce its impact on the environment and health.

    • 350.org: A global grassroots movement focused on ending the use of fossil fuels and promoting renewable energy solutions.
    • Greenpeace: Known for its direct action campaigns, Greenpeace works to combat climate change, protect biodiversity, and advocate for environmental justice.
    • Sierra Club: One of the oldest and largest environmental organizations in the United States, the Sierra Club works on issues including climate change, conservation, and renewable energy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acid Rain and the Effect on Our Climate

Oil Refinary
Photo: Graphic Stock

No doubt climate change is among us and in this article we will dwelve into one specific aspect of climate change and that the affects of acid rain. 

What is Acid Rain?

The burning of fossil fuels, the eruption of volcanoes and rotting plants all release harmful gases. When these gases react with water, oxygen, and other substances in the environment, it results in the production of acid. As the winds blow, this acidic content may spread over hundreds and thousands of miles.

Like a domino effect, the acid then falls from the atmosphere and enters our water supply. This results in potential contamination of the water, subsequently affecting fish and other species, which can result in contamination of our entire food chain.

When the water is consumed by animals or for the cultivation of crops, both the animals and human beings bear the consequences. Acid rain also corrodes the trees and affects their ability to absorb nutrients from the soil and take up water.

Most of the acid rain today is a result of human activities. And since everything in the environment is closely linked to each other, if something harms one part of the environment, everything else gets affected.

Acid Rain – The Details?

Some natural activities such as rotting vegetation and volcanic activities result in the release of harmful gases. Human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels also result in the release of compounds like sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen. When these gases are released into the air, they react with other substances such as water and oxygen. This reaction results in the formation of acidic pollutants and can easily become a part of the rain, snow and fog.

Normal rain has a pH value between 5.0 and 5.5. So it is slightly acidic. But when acidic pollutants become a part of the rain, it becomes more acidic than normal and is known as acid rain.

Effects of Acid Rain on the Environment 

Nature depends on balance. There is a certain percentage of acidic content present in the environment, which is normal, but as one noble writer put it quite eloquently and to the point: “Too much of anything is not good for you”; hence, an overabundance of acidic content will have a negative impact on the environment with which we live.

Effects on Plants and Trees

Acid rain affects plants and trees in multiple ways. When the acidic pollutants are absorbed in the soil, it removes the essential minerals and nutrients. As a result, plants and trees do not get adequate nutrition. Acid rain also allows aluminum to seep into the soil. This affects the ability of the trees to absorb water which is essential for their growth.

Another way through which acid rain affects the trees is by hindering their ability to absorb sunlight. The acidic fog and air do not allow the absorption of sunlight through the leaves. Since the basic requirements for the growth of plants are not met, the trees eventually die.

Effects on Marine and Wildlife

The effects of acid rain are most obvious on the marine ecosystem. As the contaminated water flows through the soil, it can bring along soil that is rich in aluminum to the streams and lakes. Thus, the streams and lakes develop more acidic water along with a higher content of aluminum.

Some marine plants and animals are more resistant to acidic water.

Underwater photo of fish and its landscape
Photo: Grapic Stock

However, species that are sensitive to high acidic content suffer greatly due to acid rain. The eggs of most species of fish cannot hatch in an acidic environment. Also, some species of adult fish can actually die.

In cases where the fish can tolerate acidic water, most of the other animals and plants they feed on might not survive in that environment. As a result, the fish die due to inadequate nutrition.

While acid rain directly affects marine species, it indirectly affects birds and other animals as well. Acid rain is known to be the biggest reason for the decline of the population of some species of birds including wood thrush. It also affects animals that depend on marine life for survival. Mammals including bears which heavily depend on fish need to find an alternate source of food due to the decreasing population of these types of fish.

Effects on Humans

The presence of sulfuric and nitric acid in the environment can make the air hazy. This is the reason why acid rain is a primary contributor to the formation of fog and smog. As far as the effect on humans is concerned, walking in acid rain is no more damaging than walking in normal rain. However, the presence of pollutants in the air can have a harmful effect on human health. The presence of acidic pollutants affects the quality of air. The sulfate and nitrate particles in the air can affect the function of the heart and lungs. Thus, acid rain is one of the major causes of increasing respiratory problems in humans including asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia.

Conclusion

Apart from living things, acid rain is known to affect non-living things as well. It can corrode buildings, statues and other man-made structures. Though sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide are not greenhouse gases, they definitely have an important effect on the recent climate change as both these gases have serious effects on the environment. Since the primary source of these gases comes from burning fossil fuels, by reducing the reliance on fossil fuels, we can control the damaging effects of acid rain.