Climate change isn’t just some vague threat to the planet – it actually has real negative consequences on our health…
You may think of climate change as harming our oceans or atmosphere in a larger sense, but not something that has any specific impact on your life. In fact, climate change impacts both your individual health, and our overall health as a species in ways that many of us don’t even realize.
The World Health Organization estimates that climate change will cause an extra 250,000 deaths per year by 2030.
Eventually, we will realize that what we do to our planet, we do to ourselves! But in the meantime, here are a few of the ways that climate change threatens our health on an ongoing basis. May these inspire you to make positive changes in your own life in any way that you can!
1. Climate change threatens our food supply.
For starters, the rising temperatures, heat waves, droughts, floods, and winter storms associated with climate change make it more difficult to grow fan favorites like coffee and avocado. They can also increase the likelihood of food spoilage and contamination.
2. Temperature extremes aggravate chronic conditions.
High temperatures raise the level of ozone pollution in the air that exacerbates respiratory disease. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures is also associated with increased risk of hospitalization for cardiovascular-, kidney-, and diabetes-related conditions.
3. Catastrophes from extreme weather events are psychologically damaging.
The wildfires, floods, and droughts associated with climate change can negatively affect people’s finances, and according to the Union of Concerned Scientists; they also have “less obvious toll on the human psyche.” People coping with the loss of a home, business, or farm can suffer severe mental health symptoms, including PTSD.
4. Air pollution worsens asthma symptoms.
One study on young campers with moderate to severe asthma found that they were 40 percent more likely to have acute asthma episodes on high pollution summer days than on days with average pollution levels.
5. Pollutants are particularly dangerous during pregnancy.
Babies who are exposed to urban air pollutants from fossil fuels in the womb are more likely to develop anxiety or depression later in life.
6. Climate change disproportionately affects women—especially in developing countries.
Evidence from developing countries suggests that women are more likely to go without food and water in times of shortage. According to the Rainforest Alliance, extreme weather events also affect women in poorer countries more than men: “Tasked with finding water, fuel wood, and food, women are roving farther to meet basic household needs as droughts and floods bring unexpected and violent changes to vulnerable landscapes. And women tend to be poorer, limiting their options for action in a drought, flood, or other extreme weather scenario…”
7. Climate change fast-tracks water-related illnesses.
In developing regions, more varied rainfall patterns can threaten fresh water supply and increase the risk of diarrheal diseases, which already kill approximately 760,000 children under the age of 5 every year. In more developed countries, industrial chemicals in water supplies can contaminate shellfish supplies.
8. Extreme weather events are super dangerous.
Thanks in large part to climate change, the number of reported weather-related natural disasters has more than tripled since the 1960s. Every year, these disasters result in over 60,000 deaths.