Climate change and health: what you can do

With the changes in climate come implications for human survival, more specifically to human health. Diseases widespread in many parts of the world depend on climate. Increase in temperatures poses the greatest threat to health.

Changes in weather patterns are increasingly bringing about lesser food production due to prolonged droughts or prolonged floods. Crop damage means that fewer people receive their daily meals and in turn leads to malnutrition. In the African continent, cases of death by hunger are widespread since the dry season has continued for longer than expected and aid from foreign countries has dwindled. The health conditions in such areas are appalling.

Food shortage also increases health risks as it is one of the major causes of conflict in hunger stricken areas. The World Food Program reported that armed conflicts in Africa increased by 50% in relation to temperature increase. Therefore, not only are people lacking food, but also losing their lives for it.

Climate change also has serious effects in the developed world. Pollution in industrial regions poses threats to human health with the air becoming more and more harmful to breathe and water becoming contaminated. More incidences of chest infections and lung cancer are on the rise.

Emissions of greenhouse gases cause temperatures to increase, and there are some direct consequences to health such as sun burn, skin cancer and heat stress. Extreme weather events are becoming health hazards with the increased number of injury cases reported after flash floods and hurricanes globally.

Climate sensitive diseases, especially malaria, are a global pandemic that affects millions of people worldwide. With these negative impacts of climate change on health, there are some measures that can be taken to safeguard against them.

Reducing individual carbon emissions is one way to go. Minimizing car use by taking riding a bicycle or walking are methods of doing this, as well as cutting down on aerosols such as house and car fresheners. This will reduce chances of exposure to respiratory disorders.

Individuals should also reduce their energy consumptions by unplugging electrical appliances that are not in use, doing away with unnecessary equipment altogether such as unused computers and television sets that remain plugged in, and also by turning off the electricity in unoccupied rooms in the home.

Disposing of waste materials at household level can greatly reduce the chances of contracting diseases. Clean households with good recycling habits also stand better protection from infections and reduce pollution at the same time.

Individuals should also anticipate future changes in climate and their effects. Saving up some money for an emergency fund can serve sufficiently in the uncertain future. Keeping food stuff away safely can help especially with the current food shortages and inflation rates. Storing non-perishable items for an emergency can facilitate better living in times of crisis.

Taking out insurance against natural disasters is a precaution for consideration. Extreme weather conditions can cause injuries and illnesses that one needs to be prepared for. Contingency planning for health matters in relation to climate change counts as a means of preparation for time to come. More information on climate change and health can be obtained from the World Health Organization website.

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