Photo: Mr. T in DC (flickr)
By now, it’s well known that rising temperatures could have all sorts of environmental consequences. What’s less well known is that global warming could have serious effects on global health, too.
Medical scientists at University College, London, working with the medical journal The Lancet, published a landmark study of how climate change might impact our health. They came up with some disturbing conclusions.
Changing Temperatures, Changing Infections
For example, warming could change patterns of infection, enabling diseases such as malaria and dengue fever to spread outside their normally tropical zones. Rising temperatures could also trigger heat waves resulting in thousands of deaths.
Other possible effects are less direct. There’s evidence that hotter conditions could harm crop yields, resulting in less grain and higher food prices. As demand increases in places like China and India, food shortages could lead to increased hunger and even starvation. People living in the world’s poorest areas would suffer the most.
A “Doomsday Scenario”
Finally, rising sea levels and drought caused by global warming could result in large migrations. And masses of people moving inland from the coast, or from rural to crowded urban areas, raises the risk for disease outbreaks of all sorts.
Now, this may sound like an unrealistic doomsday scenario. When it comes to climate change, there are many unknowns–from just how high temperatures will rise to the exact nature of the environmental and health consequences.
There’s no denying it; our planet is warming. And the evidence is mounting that, concerning global health, serious problems might be on the way.