Human activities are changing the global temperature at a rapid rate. Since the environment is changing more faster, organism living within the area cannot naturally adapt to these rapid change causing them to be at risk. One of these organisms that are at risk is humans. Climate change is causing a phenomenon called Heat island which is a serious health issue to humans. If Nothing is done, many will perish. A heat island is where an urban area or metropolitan area is much warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities. When the sunshine its rays onto the earth, some rays shine directly into the earth to keep the earth warm while other rays are reflected due to albedo. An example of albedo would be ice or trees reflecting the sun’s ray back into the atmosphere. Urban society, on the other hand, will have a significant effect on this process because it will put it out of balance. Cities and other human structures are made out material such as metal and concrete, materials such as these are great for storing heat. In the summer where the sun’s ray are more stronger, more heat is will be stored within these materials.
As the earth’s global temperature becomes warmer, heat waves are becoming more frequent and also lasting longer which, will have a prominent and very significant negative effect on human. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), ”Over the last 20 years, the extreme summer heat has become more frequent across the contiguous 48 states, with western regions setting records for numbers of events in the 2000s.” The human body is set to have a core temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is where the human body functions at best and when it exceeds 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or goes below, it enters a state called thermoregulation. Thermoregulation is a process that allows the human body to maintain its core internal temperature. An example of thermoregulation in action is while a person is exercising, stepping out on a hot day or even getting nervous, during these events the body increases its temperature but, the body is also smart enough to sense that the body temperature is changing and quickly regulates the body temperature back to its core of 96.6 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this isn’t the only cooling mechanism the human body has to cool itself down, there are times when even thermoregulation process isn’t enough to cool the body down and instead, the body uses these glands that produce sweat to cool the body down. Although these processes are very effective for cooling the body in order for the body to be in a stable state, these two mechanism doesn’t always work. You see, when the air is very humid or if the relative humidity is at its capacity of one-hundred percent, thermoregulation and sweating will become ineffective. This is because the sweat will not evaporate off the skin therefore, the human body temperature will exceed its core temperature causing the body to start malfunction. During heat waves, heat exhaustion occurs and is very dangerous to people who are exposed to the sun and heat. During a period of extreme heat and sun, the body will begin to sweat furiously and end up using a vast amount of their body’s water. If not replenished in time, the body will begin to create more heat than it can cool and than the person who’s experiencing this event will soon go into cramps, headache and enter a weakened state. It this is not treated immediately, the body is then at risk of getting a heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs when the body goes over 105 degrees Fahrenheit. A heat stroke can damage many organs in the body such as the brain, kidney and even the heart and even lead to death.
Heat waves have a negative effect on the environment which in return still affects the health of humans. When there is extreme heat, the heat drys the air which leaves it stagnant making it easy to trap pollutants that are being emitted by humans. This can create what is known as Tropospheric Ozone or Surface Ozone. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, ”During heat waves, the air becomes stagnant and traps emitted pollutants, often resulting in increases Surface Ozone.” Surface Ozone not to be confused with the stratospheric ozone are harmful to human health, especially on hot sunny days. According to EPA, “People most at risk from breathing air containing ozone include people with asthma, children, older adults, and people who are active outdoors, especially outdoor workers. In addition, people with certain genetic characteristics, and people with reduced intake of certain nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, are at greater risk from ozone exposure. ” EPA also claims that children are at most risk for health issues because their lungs are still developing and when they are outside, it’s mostly during the hot sunny days playing outside where the Surface Ozone is most prominent, young children are more likely to develop asthma than adults. According to EPA a Few health risk Surface Ozone have are:
- Make it more difficult to breathe deeply and vigorously.
- Cause shortness of breath, and pain when taking a deep breath.
- Cause coughing and sore or scratchy throat.
- Inflame and damage the airways.
- Aggravate lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.
- Increase the frequency of asthma attacks.
- Make the lungs more susceptible to infection.
- Continue to damage the lungs even when the symptoms have disappeared.
- Cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Climate change is causing the summer to last longer, hotter and decreasing the length of winter. We have already seen the negative effects it has on our environment and as well as our health. If enough is not being done, then future generations will have to perish for something we could’ve changed when we had the chance to. Urban heat island and other heat-related events are just one small piece of the problem that has to be solved if we are to have a sustainable for future generations.