The ever-worsening climate change issue is greatly affecting the Earth’s different environments and ecosystems, with many health-related issues being linked to its effects as well. The combination of these health issues and climate change can cause them to become more intense or even cause new health issues to arise. Some people may be at more risk than others which is why it is important to take all these factors into consideration. With climate change comes warmer temperatures which only bring about hotter days and an increase in the normal temperature will increase the amount of heat related deaths annually. Extreme heat can cause a heat stroke or dehydration as well as lung or heart diseases. Some places may be more affected by this than others, such as places where people are outside for a good chunk of the day. Another effect of climate change that could harm our health is the effect it has on air quality. When the weather keeps changing drastically, it can cause the air quality to become unhealthy leading to breathing and heart complications. Climate change is expected to bring about an increased amount of wildfires and the smoke from these wildfires can have severe effects when inhaled. The rising level of carbon dioxide in the air and warmer temperatures can produce other contaminants as well, such as ozone. Ozone is an air pollutant that is key in the production of smog, an even worse air pollutant. People who are exposed to high levels of ozone may result in breathing problems or heart issues and some may even die due to overexposure to ozone.
Along with the increase in temperature comes an increase in the spreading of diseases via insects. Ticks, mosquitos, and other disease-carrying insects thrive in the type of weather brought upon us by climate change. Some of these diseases include malaria, Lyme disease, West Nile virus, Rift Valley fever, and many others. High temperatures also allow bacteria to grow rapidly, in food and water supplies, increasing the chance of getting food poisoning or other stomach related sicknesses. There are multiple physical illnesses that can be brought about due to climate change, but if the changes to someone’s surrounding environment are too drastic then it can take its toll on one’s mental health too. This may not be the case for everyone, but it is a possibility for some people. If a person already has a mental health issue then the intense heat brought on by climate change can worsen the person’s condition and can even cause death, especially if that illness requires medication that affects their body temperature. People who don’t have a mental condition can still be affected by hearing about or seeing such extreme weather, as it can be enough to cause stress, to the point of a mental breakdown. Those with pre-existing stress are most vulnerable to this type of scenario. Climate change is seen as one of the leading issues against public health by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s a serious issue and there are many things we can do or continue to do in order to prepare and adapt to the changes. Steps can be taken, such as creating early warning systems for extreme weather and making sure health care professionals are more aware so they themselves can better prepare for what’s to come from climate change.