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The Coming Public Health Disaster

Posted: 12.03.2016 no comments


Read the full article online at http://www.usnews.com


public-health-disaster“NASA scientists recently confirmed that August was the hottest month in recorded history. It tied this past July for that dubious honor. Meteorologists are linking this heat to the recent spate of extreme flooding worldwide – everywhere from Louisiana to China. However, global warming isn’t just an environmental issue. According to the Lancet, a British medical journal, “Climate change could be the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.” High temperatures could set the stage for a public health disaster. They’re disrupting global ecosystems and food production, causing more extreme weather events and wildfires, threatening coastal communities with accelerated sea level rise and creating the perfect conditions for deadly diseases to spread. Reversing the increase in global temperatures is therefore an imperative not just for the environment but for human health, too. This past August is not an anomaly. The last 12 years include ten of the hottest on record.


But people are not just sweating more. They’re dealing with increased levels of toxins in the air and a higher risk of contracting diseases more prevalent in warmer climes. For example, global warming causes an increase in ground-level ozone. Higher levels of heat unleash greater concentrations of this chemical, which is the key ingredient in smog. Ozone irritates eyes and diminishes lung function, especially among the young and the elderly. Excess ozone can lead to asthma attacks, bronchitis and other allergic reactions. Over the past 30 years, as the Earth has warmed, the number of Americans suffering from asthma has doubled. Climate change is also increasing the number of animals that carry disease, including fleas, ticks, mosquitos and other insects that thrive in hot weather. Mosquitoes are incubating faster, living longer and spreading to more places. The increased insect population elevates the danger of contracting illnesses like Lyme disease, which is carried by ticks. Currently, there are over 300,000 cases of Lyme disease reported in the United States every year. That’s double the figure of a quarter-century ago. The formerly tropical Zika virus has reached American shores. Experts warn that the mosquito-borne virus could march northward due to longer summers and heavy rainfall. Climate change is also putting Americans at increased risk of bacterial infection. Rising temperatures in the world’s water supplies provide a fertile environment for bacteria, parasites and other dangerous organisms. Debilitating abdominal illness could be the result.”


Read the full article online at http://www.usnews.com