Climate change and our health
Let’s think about the major issues of this century. What did you come up with? Well, one of the first things that comes to my mind is climate change.
Yes, climate change is one of the greatest concerns ever faced by us. It is impacting every aspect of our lives and harming us both physically and mentally.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) concluded that climate risks are appearing faster and will become more severe sooner than previously expected, and it will be harder to adapt with increased global heating.
In this blog, I will discuss how climate change is impacting us and our health, including myself. But before jumping into the topic, I would like to share my own experiences associated with climate change.
I’m from Bangladesh—one of the countries most affected by climate change. This year we have faced record-breaking temperatures, which meant I wasn’t able to go to my school and was faced with dehydration. We also had record-breaking rain during the first week of October, leading to flooding all over the district; our homes were under water, and we were disconnected.
All of these things happened only because of climate change. We are facing extreme heat, heat waves, more drought, change in precipitation, stronger cyclones, sea level rise and many more, due to climate change.
Now let’s get back to our topic; climate change impacts our health in several ways.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), in one year, there are 2 billion people without safe drinking water and 600 million suffering from foodborne illnesses; children under 5 account for 30% of foodborne fatalities.
Climate stressors heighten waterborne and foodborne disease risks. In 2020, 770 million people faced hunger, predominantly in Africa and Asia. The direct damage costs to health (excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation) is estimated to be between US$ 2–4 billion per year by 2030.
It is clear from the statistics that climate change has life-threatening impacts. So, it’s vital to know how we can combat health issues created by climate change.
Firstly, we should remember that if we become more aware of climate change and take initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases, invest in adaptation measures, and strengthen health systems, we will be more likely to live our life happily.
Secondly, drink more and more water and avoid working outside during hot weather. Recent research attributes 37% of heat-related deaths to human-induced climate change.
Thirdly, keep an eye on your family members or friends to see if they are facing any health issues due to climate change. If you find someone, then take him to the doctor. In addition, WHO encourages vaccination for yourself and your family for protection against many diseases.
If someone is already being affected by climate change and has issues like dehydration, hypothermia, waterborne and foodborne diseases, depression, anxiety etc., they should consult with health experts and take enough rest. Health issues, especially mental health issues, aren’t a joke. So, take it seriously to prevent suicide and promote a happy life.
Fourthly, plant more and more trees. Trees are our best companion. They reduce greenhouse gases and provide us with healthy food and oxygen to live a healthy life. Avoid unhealthy eating habits and follow a balanced diet.
In conclusion, over 930 million people—around 12% of the world’s population—spend at least 10% of their household budget to pay for health care. The WHO conservatively projects 250,000 additional yearly deaths by the 2030s due to climate change impacts on diseases like malaria and coastal flooding.
So, if you don’t want to lose your money on health care for you and your family, and you want to live a secure life, then be aware of climate change and its effects on our health. Do the work that reduces climate change and its effects.
If you’re interested in information on ways we can better look after our health and the health of our planet, check out some more of Glimmer’s articles.
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Glimmer proudly supports and promotes the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for a better world.
The UN now focuses on climate change as a health issue too. Here’s why. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/11/climate-change-health-cop28/