Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Potential Reality of Climate Change and Public Health

Air and water pollution was been a problem for at least a century, so why, even with some of the policies that have been implemented over the centuries is it still such a huge problem? The problem of air and water pollution causing public health issues has been known for decades now. Even in the late 1800's England was implementing clean air acts. So why, if we have knowledge about this, have we ignored it? It's known that industrialization and urbanization contributes to climate change and has negative impacts on the public’s health in all different types of areas. This is what bothers me about the health effects climate change will cause. This spread of disease, and physical/psychological harm to the population is only going to get worse from here and if climate change goes unchecked millions of people will die prematurely. Has history taught us nothing? People could potentially lose their lives because governments can’t learn from experience and example.

 Severe climate change can be prevented with the proper measures but why has it taken so long to implement the proper changes needed to keep the public healthy? If the world would have invested in renewable energy, research, and sustainable technologies sooner we might have been able to keep the climate from changing so much and causing a potential global scale threat to public health. So many lives could have been saved by just paying better attention to air pollution itself. I learned today during the talks at COP21 that an average of 7 million people die a year from air pollution around the world today. This is simply unacceptable, these types of illnesses and poor quality of life should not be seen as often as it is in today’s world. Even looking into environmental archaeology these types of problems are shown as early as the 1650’s but usually they occur slowly over time when a shift in industrialization is about to occur.

 How is it we let it get this far? Where century’s old data on populations are still applicable to today’s world because we have done so little to help correct the climate situation. The time to act is now before it gets worse and we see a shift in public health like never seen before. We have had plagues, epidemics, pandemics and have seen millions die from some diseases but what climate change will have in store for the public’s health will be nothing compared to what we’ve seen before.  Not only will countless be displaced, hungry, poor and homeless but there will be physical injuries from hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunami’s, earthquakes, droughts, floods, and more. On top of physical injuries there will be a spread of diseases like malaria and dengue fever as well as a swell in infectious disease because of a lack of sanitation and pollution. I could go on but I think you get the point.

 Climate change, if unchecked, will severely alter the standard of living everywhere and adversely affect public health. Are we prepared for that future? If a natural disaster occurred today would we have the medical resources to take care of everyone who was physically injured as well as those who were already sick? I don’t know the answer to that question but if we aren’t prepared now how can we expect to be prepared for a future where the world will be covered in tragedies like this. We can’t airlift the urban poor to hospitals that are already filled with sick and dying people. Nor can we expect the researchers to suddenly provide the cure to all of the diseases that plague the planet because so many people develop them. A whole other aspect to this is the medical staff and medicine itself. Will we have enough doctors, nurses, and aids to help all of these people? Will we have enough chemical and natural supplies in the world to make all of the necessary treatments for those who are ill and those who would develop these diseases? These are the questions that will arise because of the effects of climate change if we don’t do something about it soon. I don’t know about all of you, but it’s a scary and chilling thought if we aren’t prepared. Are we willing to take responsibility for all of those who will have died because they couldn’t get care? How many will just die on the street. I know it sounds dramatic, but if a diseases in history like the plague, cholera, and influenza can kill thousands of people or more without any help from climate change what do you think will happen once it does?

CDC- Center for Disease Control website

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