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Do we suffer due to climate change ?

Posted by Maria Soroka
September 19, 2017

NOTE: This post has been self-published by the author. Anyone can write on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“The climate system is an angry beast and we are  poking it with sticks”

– even twenty years ago warned Wallace Smith Broecker,

American geologist  and climatologist, who coined the term “global warming”


A month ago there was an important event in the geological scale, which few of us noticed. On 11 November, the weather observatory on the southern slope of the volcano Mauna Loa in Hawaii, where for many years the most accurate measurements of carbon dioxide level in atmosphere have been made, recorded 399,68 CO2 molecules per million. The next day they already had 401,64 and since since then the average value has not fallen below 400. Probably will never fall. Finally, breaking the 400 mark, we have officially moved into “The Carbon Dioxide Era”. Such measurements was taken by NASA and other universities and projects.

They all indicate the same thing: it is getting hotter..

Researches in this area are popular and relevant not without purpose. Evidently, climate and its changes  are  impacting  everybody. What about me ?All my life I have  lived close to Chernobyl so the ecology issues have a significant impact on my life, whether I want it or not.

If anybody does not  realize induced changes of climate, just read the following extract:

“Roughly one-third of all coral species and the sustainability of coral reef ecosystems are threatened by human activities, including climate warming and infectious diseases.”

But the authors of the article in Science are  looking much further:

We demonstrate the serious consequences of this species redistribution for economic development, livelihoods, food security, human health and culture,and we document feedbacks on climate itself.

In 2013 one of the most prestigious science journals Science published a great article by American Association for the Advancement of Science , which says:

In humans, exposure to diarrheal diseases has been linked to warmer temperatures and heavy rainfall. Human infections of cholera, typically acquired through ingestion of contaminated water (in developing countries) or undercooked seafood (in the developed world), affect millions of people annually with a high case-fatality rate. Coastal Vibrio infections are associated with zoo-plankton blooms, warmer water, and severe storms [credit]

However, some researchers have argued that ranges will shift with warming, rather than expand, and that the best predictors of infection risk are economic and social factors, especially poverty, as the articles say

But there are some difficulties in regional exploration , despite the importance of current issues for all over the world. For the programs connected with climate changes and their influence are not conducted in my homeland. Fortunately, there are countries were these programmes are supported by government.

There is one more reason, that motivates me to be aware of the way I treat the environment . As for my future speciality I will be a biotechnologist. It means I can be not only an eco-accountable citizen, but also participate in the eco-network to be healthier. So, let’s try to understand some significant researches about climate and human health.

Scientists started to use the words “Climate and health”  relatively recently. In 1843 there was a first paper in  the database of scientific publications in biology and medicine PubMed in which the words “Climate and health”  was used. After this single paper the interest to climate&health have been returned after 30 years in medical reviews.

Q: What has changed ?

A: Today this issue is being investigated all over the world by specialized organizations!

Obviously, current  reviews highlight research progress and gaps and develop a predictive framework that integrates knowledge with modeling approaches. Let’s look at  at one of the results, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution this summer:

As highlighted in the  Feature article ‘Predicting zoonoses’, the emergence of new viruses  presents many challenges to humanity,  including predicting outbreaks of diseases  we don’t even know about yet.

I would like to note, that  such branch as a bioinformatics has become more and more prominent tool in this area of exploring. Here we read:

More-over, new technologies can detect variability in physiological processes and gene expression and can improve climate projections from global circulation models. Sophisticated experimental designs conducted under appropriate ranges of environmental conditions and retrospective studies to identify past climatic effects on disease. [from these articles] will help advance predictive power.

Q: But what about tools, which we can use in our daily life ?

A: Today you can find many different Carbon Calculators –  carbon footprint calculator for individuals and households – try it and make the ecological quality better ! As we can find here:

Just as with the discovery  of new pathogens, the study of old pathogens does not face intrinsic barriers, but instead simply barriers of the old-fashioned kind: money, time and collective will.

It is deeply sad, that humans’ actions caused such ecological changes, that we even started creating Carbon Calculators! There are few others technologies, that try to make our lives more safer, taking into account the fresh article in Science “Two new ways to turn ‘garbage’ carbon dioxide into fuel”.

But is it correct to compare our prolonged climate

influence and some technologies of the future ?

Today we live in debt to the planet. Here is the list of “footprints” we leave:

  • Excessive purchase of food, clothing, household items
  • trips  by car, air travel
  • the garbage that we do not sort
  • packaging that cannot be recycle
  • aggressive household chemicals, which we pour into drains and rivers
  • usage of incandensent bulbs (instead of LED)

Take into account such interesting figure:

FIGURE: The relevance of well-being theory for climate change research and policy. Unlike hedonic and utility-based approaches, human needs theory argues that vital dimensions of well-being correlate with consumption, but only up to a threshold. This implies a mitigation strategy that protects minimal levels of consumption but critically analyses excessive consumption. In addition, the provisioning context of human needs is seen as participatory, where transformative mitigation potential can be found in social as well as technological change.

Please note that climate change also contributes to the growth of the global disease burden, and this trend is expected to intensify in the future. Today WHO is developing  a global strategy, which is a comprehensive international response aimed  to protecting health from the impacts of climate change. This is being led by WHO and partners in the health sector in coordination with the UN and other partner organizations. The work plan of the WHO in the fields of climate change &  health can be found on their website   as well as here. Everyone should be aware that strong measures must be taken to protect human health in response to climate changes. [Screenshot credit]

Future activities must continue to anticipate and monitor pathogen biodiversity and disease trends in natural ecosystems and identify opportunities to mitigate the impacts of climate-driven disease emergence.

But some things we can do, namely :

  • To protect yourself and your family. Efforts should focus on current local health threats associated with climate change.For example, in areas where the risk of malaria could increase, you can learn to recognize the symptoms of the disease,learn about new medicines and to teach children to take precaution
  • To make efforts to take the necessary measures “at the system level”. For example,  local and national authorities can develop an early warning system in areas threatened by heat waves. The system can provide the people who work in health care area with the ways of disease prevention.
  • I think we can agree with B. E. Fryer, who  noted the importance of climate effect on human health in 1974. Yeah, this topic needs research. Let’s start ?

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