The activities of humans release pollutants into the Earth’s atmosphere. Some of these pollutants are greenhouse gases that can trap the Sun’s energy. The result has been global warming. The result of global warming has been global climate change.
Increased global temperature, rising sea levels, and precipitation changes, with more extremes in weather, are expected to have ill effects on public health. Increased morbidity, mortality, and displacement are expected due to global climate change. The following framework shows the potential impacts of global climate change on human health.
Changes in global climate are expected to adversely affect communities worldwide. Storms will be more intense and flooding more common. Higher temperatures will lead to heat-related illnesses. Changes in rainfall amounts will lead to disruptions in the global food supply. Organisms that transmit viruses and other pathogens will be able to infect people in larger geographic ranges. Air pollution will trigger more respiratory diseases. Altering the basic human needs of food, clean water, clean air, and shelter is likely to result in civil conflict.
Sadly, these changes are expected to have disproportionate effects on people. People without access to health care will likely suffer more. People who are very young or very old are usually less able to cope with sudden changes. People and nations without wealth will be less able to respond to rapidly changing living conditions.
Worldwide population has grown rapidly in only a few generations time. The increased world population has strained our planet’s natural resources. As the world population has increased, so has the amount of greenhouse gases.
An effective public health response to climate change can prevent injuries, illnesses, and death while enhancing overall public health preparedness. Protecting Americans from adverse health effects of climate change directly correlates with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s four overarching Health Protection Goals of: Healthy People in Every Stage of Life, Healthy People in Healthy Places, People Prepared for Emerging Health Threats, and Healthy People in a Healthy World.
Public Health programs provide a solid foundation for action and policy. Many of the activities needed to protect Americans from adverse health effects due to climate change are mutually beneficial for overall public health. Human health and the environment are connected. What is generally good for the environment is good for human health.
Tennessee Department of Health former Commissioner, Susan R. Cooper, testified before the United States Senate Environmental Public Works Committee. Representing the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), she spoke about the human impacts of climate change. Click here to read the statement.
Climate change is a global issue. It might be hard to believe that you can have an affect on a global issue, but you can. Whether your affect on climate change is positive or negative is up to you. There are many simple things you can do in your daily life to help keep our planet healthy. See below for actions you can do to green your home or workplace. Also available are slideshows for making changes at home and at work. Our positive actions make a difference.
Be fuel efficient
Be green in your yard
Reduce, reuse, and recycle
Reduce Paper Waste
Improve Indoor Air Quality
Reduce Needless Trash