To date, a neglected aspect of the climate change debate , much less research has been conducted on the impacts of climate change on health, food supply, economic growth , migration , security, societal change, and public goods , such as drinking water , than on the geophysical changes related to global warming. Human impacts can be both negative and positive. Climatic changes in Siberia , for instance, are expected to improve food production and local economic activity, at least in the short to medium term.
Whereas, Bangladesh has experienced an increase in climate-sensitive diseases such as malaria, dengue, childhood diarrhoea, and pneumonia, among vulnerable communities. The majority of the adverse effects of climate change are experienced by poor and low-income communities around the world, who have much higher levels of vulnerability to environmental determinants of health, wealth and other factors, and much lower levels of capacity available for coping with environmental change. Most of the key vulnerabilities to climate change are related to climate phenomena that exceed thresholds for adaptation ; such as extreme weather events or abrupt climate change, as well as limited access to resources financial, technical, human, institutional to cope.
In , the IPCC published a report of key vulnerabilities of industry, settlements, and society to climate change. Climate change poses a wide range of risks to population health — risks that will increase in future decades, often to critical levels, if global climate change continues on its current trajectory. Climate change thus threatens to slow, halt or reverse international progress towards reducing child under-nutrition, deaths from diarrheal diseases and the spread of other infectious diseases.
Climate Impacts on Human Health
Climate change acts predominantly by exacerbating the existing, often enormous, health problems, especially in the poorer parts of the world. Current variations in weather conditions already have many adverse impacts on the health of poor people in developing nations,  and these too are likely to be 'multiplied' by the added stresses of climate change. A changing climate thus affects the prerequisites of population health: clean air and water, sufficient food, natural constraints on infectious disease agents, and the adequacy and security of shelter.
A warmer and more variable climate leads to higher levels of some air pollutants. It increases the rates and ranges of transmission of infectious diseases through unclean water and contaminated food, and by affecting vector organisms such as mosquitoes and intermediate or reservoir host species that harbour the infectious agent such as cattle,  bats and rodents. Changes in temperature, rainfall and seasonality compromise agricultural production in many regions, including some of the least developed countries, thus jeopardising child health and growth and the overall health and functional capacity of adults.
As warming proceeds, the severity and perhaps frequency of weather-related disasters will increase — and appears to have done so in a number of regions of the world over the past several decades. Health equity and climate change have a major impact on human health and quality of life, and are interlinked in a number of ways. The report of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health points out that disadvantaged communities are likely to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden of climate change because of their increased exposure and vulnerability to health threats.
Over 90 percent of malaria and diarrhea deaths are borne by children aged 5 years or younger, mostly in developing countries. A article in the American Psychologist identified three classes of psychological impacts from global climate change: . This trend towards more variability and fluctuation is perhaps more important, in terms of its impact on human health, than that of a gradual and long-term trend towards higher average temperature.
Climate change may lead to dramatic increases in prevalence of a variety of infectious diseases. One major reason that change in climate increases the prevalence of vector borne disease is that temperature and rainfall play a key role in the distribution, magnitude, and viral capacity of mosquitoes, who are primary vectors for many vector borne diseases. Observation and research detect a shift of pests and pathogens in the distribution away from the equator and towards Earth's poles.
DyMSiM uses epidemiological and entomological data and practices to model future mosquito distributions based upon climate conditions and mosquitos living in the area. Beyond distribution, rising temperatures can decrease viral incubation time in vivo in vectors increasing the viral transmissibility leading to increases in infection rates.
Increased precipitation like rain could increase the number of mosquitos indirectly by expanding larval habitat and food supply. Malaria kills approximately , children under age 5 annually, poses an imminent threat through temperature increase. Dengue fever is spread by the bite of the female mosquito known as Aedes aegypti. This species of mosquito can travel up to meters in search of water to lay their eggs, but often remain closer to human habitation.
A mosquito becomes infected with dengue when it bites and takes the blood of an infected human. After approximately one week, the mosquito can then transmit the dengue infection to other humans through her bite. While dengue cannot be spread from person to person, an infected person can infect more mosquitos, thus, furthering the spread of the disease.
Overall, the female mosquito is a highly effective vector of this disease. When bitten by an infected mosquito, dengue has an incubation period of 4—10 days. Once infected with the dengue virus, humans experience severe flu-like symptoms. Also known as "break-bone fever", dengue can affect infants, children, and adults and can be fatal. These symptoms usually last 2—7 days. Dengue can become fatal due to plasma leaking, fluid accumulation, respiratory distress, severe bleeding, or organ impairment.
Where the mosquito, Aedes aegypti , lives and the amount of mosquitos present is strongly influenced by the amount of water-bearing containers or pockets of standstill water in an area, daily temperature and variation in temperature, moisture, and solar radiation. Globalization, trade, travel, demographic trends, and warming temperatures are all attributed to the recent spread to this primary vector of dengue.
Dengue is now ranked as the most important vector-borne viral disease in the world. Today, an estimated 50— million dengue fever infections occur annually. In just the past 50 years, transmission has increased drastically with new cases of the disease incidence increasing fold. Recently the number of reported cases has continually increased along with dengue spreading to new areas. Explosive outbreaks are also occurring. Moreover, there is the possible threat of outbreak in Europe with local transmission of dengue being reported for the first time in France and Croatia in One country that has seen significant impacts from dengue is Bangladesh.
Dengue has been endemic in Bangladesh since its first major outbreak in Dhaka is Bangladesh's biggest city, and also the highest risk area in Bangladesh for transmission of dengue, with its topical climate and population of approximately There were 25, cases of dengue in Dhaka from to , with an average of cases a month. Dengue incidence has only increased in the last few decades, and is projected to continue to do so with changing climate conditions.
Based on these, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the mean annual temperature of Southeast Asia will have increased by 3. Taking this estimate, researchers predict an increase of 16, cases in Dhaka, Bangladesh by the year This represents a times increase in dengue incidence. Increased public health surveillance and preparation is needed in areas like Bangladesh that are seeing an upward trend in climatic changes and vector-borne disease like dengue virus. Sociodemographic factors include, but are not limited to: patterns of human migration and travel, effectiveness of public health and medical infrastructure in controlling and treating disease, the extent of anti-malarial drug resistance and the underlying health status of the population at hand.
Patz and Olson argue that these changes in landscape can alter local weather more than long term climate change. It is highly unlikely that climate exerts an isolated effect.
10.4 Global Climate Change
Effective policies which take into consideration predictive climate change models and measures are key to preparing for and managing changes in incidence and reestablishment of diseases. Climate change may dramatically impact habitat loss , for example, arid conditions may cause the deforestation of rainforests , as has occurred in the past. A study by NOAA from concluded that heat stress will reduce labor capacity considerably under current emissions scenarios.
Climate change contributes to cold snaps due to disruptions in the polar vortex , which in turn is caused by a decline in Arctic sea ice , and will cause frigid, cold air to spill from the Arctic and into areas of the northern hemisphere that usually don't experience such cold temperatures, such as the North American southeast, mid-west, northeast, and parts of Europe.
This brings along extreme cold temperatures for a short period of time, and results in large scale disruption to human life. A commercial airliner skidded off the runway and into a nearby snowbank at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York during the cold snap. Cold Events are expected to increase in the short term while in the long term the increasing global temperature is going to give way to more heat related events.
The freshwater resources that humans rely on are highly sensitive to variations in weather and climate. In , the IPCC reported with high confidence that climate change has a net negative impact on water resources and freshwater ecosystems in all regions. As the climate warms, it changes the nature of global rainfall, evaporation, snow, stream flow and other factors that affect water supply and quality. Specific impacts include:. Climate change causes displacement of people in several ways, the most obvious—and dramatic—being through the increased number and severity of weather-related disasters which destroy homes and habitats causing people to seek shelter or livelihoods elsewhere.
Effects of climate change such as desertification and rising sea levels gradually erode livelihood and force communities to abandon traditional homelands for more accommodating environments. Deteriorating environments triggered by climate change can also lead to increased conflict over resources which in turn can displace people. The IPCC has estimated that million environmental migrants will exist by the year , due mainly to the effects of coastal flooding, shoreline erosion and agricultural disruption.
According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, more than 42 million people were displaced in Asia and the Pacific during and , more than twice the population of Sri Lanka. This figure includes those displaced by storms, floods, and heat and cold waves. Still others were displaced by drought and sea-level rise. Most of those compelled to leave their homes eventually returned when conditions improved, but an undetermined number became migrants, usually within their country, but also across national borders.
Asia and the Pacific is the global area most prone to natural disasters, both in terms of the absolute number of disasters and of populations affected. It is highly exposed to climate impacts, and is home to highly vulnerable population groups, who are disproportionately poor and marginalized. Some Pacific Ocean island nations, such as Tuvalu , Kiribati , and the Maldives ,  are considering the eventual possibility of evacuation, as flood defense may become economically unrealistic.
Tuvalu already has an ad hoc agreement with New Zealand to allow phased relocation. They are not willing to leave their homes, land and families. Even where there is awareness many believe that it is a problem caused by developed countries and should therefore be solved by developed countries. Governments have considered various approaches to reduce migration compelled by environmental conditions in at-risk communities, including programs of social protection, livelihoods development, basic urban infrastructure development, and disaster risk management.
Some experts even support migration as an appropriate way for people to cope with environmental changes. However, this is controversial because migrants — particularly low-skilled ones — are among the most vulnerable people in society and are often denied basic protections and access to services. Climate change is only one factor that may contribute to a household's decision to migrate; other factors may include poverty , population growth or employment options.
In small islands and megadeltas , inundation as a result of sea level rise is expected to threaten vital infrastructure and human settlements. Climate change has the potential to exacerbate existing tensions or create new ones — serving as a threat multiplier. It can be a catalyst for violent conflict and a threat to international security. A variety of experts have warned that climate change may lead to increased conflict. The Military Advisory Board , a panel of retired U.
The link between climate change and security is a concern for authorities across the world, including United Nations Security Council and the G77 group of developing nations. Climate change's impact as a security threat is expected to hit developing nations particularly hard. In Britain, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has argued that "An unstable climate will exacerbate some of the core drivers of conflict, such as migratory pressures and competition for resources.
Additionally, researchers studying ancient climate patterns paleoclimatology have shown that long-term fluctuations of war frequency and population changes have followed cycles of temperature change since the preindustrial era. The consequences of climate change and poverty are not distributed uniformly within communities. Individual and social factors such as gender, age, education, ethnicity, geography and language lead to differential vulnerability and capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change.
Climate change effects such as hunger, poverty and diseases like diarrhea and malaria, disproportionately impact children; about 90 percent of malaria and diarrhea deaths are among young children. Children are also 14—44 percent more likely to die from environmental factors,  again leaving them the most vulnerable. Those in urban areas will be affected by lower air quality and overcrowding, and will struggle the most to better their situation.
As the World Meteorological Organization explains, "recent increase in societal impact from tropical cyclones has largely been caused by rising concentrations of population and infrastructure in coastal regions. The s and s were notable because of the extremely low amounts of damage compared to other decades. The decade — has the second most damage among the past 11 decades, with only the decade — surpassing its costs. The American Insurance Journal predicted that "catastrophe losses should be expected to double roughly every 10 years because of increases in construction costs, increases in the number of structures and changes in their characteristics.
The cost is also increasing partly because of building in exposed areas such as coasts and floodplains.
The ABI claims that reduction of the vulnerability to some inevitable effects of climate change, for example through more resilient buildings and improved flood defences, could also result in considerable cost-savings in the longterm. A major challenge for human settlements is sea level rise , indicated by ongoing observation and research of rapid declines in ice-mass balance from both Greenland and Antarctica.
Estimates for are at least twice as large as previously estimated by IPCC AR4, with an upper limit of about two meters. For historical reasons to do with trade , many of the world's largest and most prosperous cities are on the coast. In developing countries, the poorest often live on floodplains , because it is the only available space, or fertile agricultural land. These settlements often lack infrastructure such as dykes and early warning systems.
Poorer communities also tend to lack the insurance, savings, or access to credit needed to recover from disasters. In a journal paper, Nicholls and Tol considered the effects of sea level rise: . Small islands and deltaic settings stand out as being more vulnerable as shown in many earlier analyses. Collectively, these results suggest that human societies will have more choice in how they respond to sea-level rise than is often assumed.
However, this conclusion needs to be tempered by recognition that we still do not understand these choices and significant impacts remain possible. The IPCC reported that socioeconomic impacts of climate change in coastal and low-lying areas would be overwhelmingly adverse. The following impacts were projected with very high confidence: . A study in the April issue of Environment and Urbanization reports that million people live in coastal areas within 30 feet 9.
Berlin and Paris like Canberra , Australia. Canberra and Vienna will be like Skopje. Brasilia will be like Goiania. Oil and natural gas infrastructure is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the increased risk [ citation needed ] of disasters such as storm , cyclones , flooding and long-term increases in sea level. Minimising these risks by building in less disaster prone areas, can be expensive and impossible in countries with coastal locations or island states.
All thermal power stations depend on water to cool them. Not only is there increased demand for fresh water, but climate change can increase the likelihood of drought and fresh water shortages. Another impact for thermal power plants, is that increasing the temperatures in which they operate reduces their efficiency and hence their output. The source of oil often comes from areas prone to high natural disaster risks; such as tropical storms, hurricanes, cyclones, and floods.
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An example is Hurricane Katrina 's impact on oil extraction in the Gulf of Mexico , as it destroyed oil and gas platforms and damaged more. However, previously pristine arctic areas will now be available for resource extraction.
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Climate change, along with extreme weather and natural disasters can affect nuclear power plants in a similar way to those using oil, coal, and natural gas. However, the impact of water shortages on nuclear power plants cooled by rivers will be greater than on other thermal power plants. This is because old reactor designs with water-cooled cores must run at lower internal temperatures and thus, paradoxically, must dump more heat to the environment to produce a given amount of electricity.
This situation has forced some nuclear reactors to be shut down and will do so again unless the cooling systems of these plants are enhanced to provide more capacity. Such shutdowns happened in France during the and heat waves. During the heat waves, 17 reactors had to limit output or shut down. Other cases have been reported from Germany, where extreme temperatures have reduced nuclear power production 9 times due to high temperatures between and In particular:.
Similar events have happened elsewhere in Europe during those same hot summers. Many scientists agree that if global warming continues, this disruption is likely to increase. Changes in the amount of river flow will correlate with the amount of energy produced by a dam. Lower river flows because of drought, climate change, or upstream dams and diversions, will reduce the amount of live storage in a reservoir; therefore reducing the amount of water that can be used for hydroelectricity. The result of diminished river flow can be a power shortage in areas that depend heavily on hydroelectric power.
The risk of flow shortage may increase as a result of climate change. The scientific evidence for links between global warming and the increasing cost of natural disasters due to weather events  is weak, but, nevertheless, prominent mainstream environmental spokesmen such as Barack Obama and Al Gore have emphasized the possible connection. An industry directly affected by the risks of climate change is the insurance industry.
The results are rising insurance premiums, and the risk that in some areas flood insurance will become unaffordable for those in the lower income brackets. In the United States, insurance losses have also greatly increased. In March , Munich Re noted that climate change could cause home insurance to become unaffordable for households at or below average incomes.
Roads, airport runways, railway lines and pipelines, including oil pipelines , sewers , water mains etc. Regions already adversely affected include areas of permafrost , which are subject to high levels of subsidence , resulting in buckling roads, sunken foundations, and severely cracked runways. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. See also: Global warming and Effects of global warming. Impact of climate change on humanity. Main article: Effects of climate change on human health. Further information: Extreme weather. Further information: Effects of global warming on infectious diseases.
See also: Water crisis. See also: Environmental migrant. Main article: Climate security. See also: Climate change and poverty and Climate change and gender. See also: List of costliest Atlantic hurricanes and Physical impacts of climate change. Further information: Sea level rise and Future sea level. Washington, D. Max Planck Research. Zhong; L. Luo; X. This process is commonly known as the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect also happens with the entire Earth.
Of course, our planet is not surrounded by glass windows. Instead, the Earth is wrapped with an atmosphere that contains greenhouse gases GHGs. Much like the glass in a greenhouse, GHGs allow incoming visible light energy from the sun to pass, but they block infrared radiation that is radiated from the Earth towards space Figure 1.
In this way, they help trap heat energy that subsequently raises air temperature. Being a greenhouse gas is a physical property of certain types of gases; because of their molecular structure they absorb wavelengths of infrared radiation, but are transparent to visible light. GHGs act like a blanket, making Earth significantly warmer than it would otherwise be.
Carbon dioxide CO 2 is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent global climate change. Human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use, release very large amounts of CO 2 to the atmosphere, causing its concentration in the atmosphere to rise. Methane CH 4 is produced through both natural and human activities. For example, wetlands, agricultural activities, and fossil fuel extraction and transport all emit CH 4.
In recent decades, the rate of increase has slowed considerably. Water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas and also the most important in terms of its contribution to the natural greenhouse effect, despite having a short atmospheric lifetime. Some human activities can influence local water vapor levels. However, on a global scale, the concentration of water vapor is controlled by temperature, which influences overall rates of evaporation and precipitation.
Therefore, the global concentration of water vapor is not substantially affected by direct human emissions. Ground-level ozone O 3 , which also has a short atmospheric lifetime, is a potent greenhouse gas. Chemical reactions create ozone from emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds from automobiles, power plants, and other industrial and commercial sources in the presence of sunlight as discussed in section In addition to trapping heat, ozone is a pollutant that can cause respiratory health problems and damage crops and ecosystems.
Climate can be influenced by natural changes that affect how much solar energy reaches Earth. The intensity of the sunlight can cause either warming during periods of stronger solar intensity or cooling during periods of weaker solar intensity.
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Changes in solar energy continue to affect climate. However, solar activity has been relatively constant, aside from the year cycle, since the midth century and therefore does not explain the recent warming of Earth. When sunlight energy reaches Earth it can be reflected or absorbed. Light-colored objects and surfaces, like snow and clouds, tend to reflect most sunlight, while darker objects and surfaces, like the ocean and forests, tend to absorb more sunlight. The term albedo refers to the amount of solar radiation reflected from an object or surface, often expressed as a percentage. Albedo is also affected by aerosols.
Aerosols are small particles or liquid droplets in the atmosphere that can absorb or reflect sunlight. Unlike greenhouse gases GHGs , the climate effects of aerosols vary depending on what they are made of and where they are emitted. Those aerosols that reflect sunlight, such as particles from volcanic eruptions or sulfur emissions from burning coal, have a cooling effect. Those that absorb sunlight, such as black carbon a part of soot , have a warming effect. Natural changes in albedo, like the melting of sea ice or increases in cloud cover, have contributed to climate change in the past, often acting as feedbacks to other processes.
Volcanoes have played a noticeable role in climate. Volcanic particles that reach the upper atmosphere can reflect enough sunlight back to space to cool the surface of the planet by a few tenths of a degree for several years. Volcanic particles from a single eruption do not produce long-term change because they remain in the atmosphere for a much shorter time than GHGs. Processes such as deforestation, reforestation, desertification, and urbanization often contribute to changes in climate in the places they occur. These effects may be significant regionally, but are smaller when averaged over the entire globe.
It is charged with the task of evaluating and synthesizing the scientific evidence surrounding global climate change. The IPCC uses this information to evaluate current impacts and future risks, in addition to providing policymakers with assessments. These assessments are released about once every every six years. The most recent report, the 5th Assessment, was released in Hundreds of leading scientists from around the world are chosen to author these reports. Over the history of the IPCC, these scientists have reviewed thousands of peer-reviewed, publicly available studies.
The scientific consensus is clear: global climate change is real and humans are very likely the cause for this change. Many independent scientific organizations have released similar statements, both in the United States and abroad. Critics of climate change, driven by ideology instead of evidence, try to suggest to the public that there is no scientific consensus on global climate change.
Such an assertion is patently false. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere will continue to increase unless the billions of tons of anthropogenic emissions each year decrease substantially. Increased concentrations are expected to:. The magnitude and rate of future climate change will primarily depend on the following factors:. Many greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for long periods of time.
As a result, even if emissions stopped increasing, atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations would continue to remain elevated for hundreds of years. This is because the oceans, which store heat, take many decades to fully respond to higher greenhouse gas concentrations. Climate models project the following key temperature-related changes:. Patterns of precipitation and storm events, including both rain and snowfall are likely to change. However, some of these changes are less certain than the changes associated with temperature. Projections show that future precipitation and storm changes will vary by season and region.
Some regions may have less precipitation, some may have more precipitation, and some may have little or no change.
Climate Impacts on Human Health | Climate Change Impacts | US EPA
The amount of rain falling in heavy precipitation events is likely to increase in most regions, while storm tracks are projected to shift towards the poles. Climate models project the following precipitation and storm changes:. Global average annual precipitation through the end of the century is expected to increase, although changes in the amount and intensity of precipitation will vary by region. The intensity of precipitation events will likely increase on average. This will be particularly pronounced in tropical and high-latitude regions, which are also expected to experience overall increases in precipitation.
The strength of the winds associated with tropical storms is likely to increase. The amount of precipitation falling in tropical storms is also likely to increase. Annual average precipitation is projected to increase in some areas and decrease in others. Arctic sea ice is already declining drastically. The area of snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased since Permafrost temperature has increased over the last century, making it more susceptible to thawing.