Global Warming May Promote Disease and Other Health Problems

April 16, 2008 05:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
U.S. and international public health experts warn that climate change may increase the spread of infectious diseases and pose other human health risks.

30-Second Summary

On April 9, a senior scientist for the federal Centers for Disease Control told Congress that “major human health problems” are anticipated from climate change, including increased air pollution and the more rapid spread of infectious diseases such as West Nile virus, malaria, dengue fever and Lyme disease.

Extreme heat waves, higher carbon dioxide levels, increased solar radiation and water shortages caused by climate change all pose threats to human health.

Resulting health problems will likely include breathing and respiratory problems, greater risk of infection and increased stress, according to international public health experts who gathered to discuss the issue at a rural health conference held in Australia in March 2008.

A 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the human health impacts of climate change, though relatively small at the time, were expected to “progressively increase in all countries and regions.”

But the World Health Organization says certain areas of the world are more vulnerable, with developing countries and crowded coastal cities bearing the brunt of climate change-induced health problems.

As such warnings mount, worrying about global warming has become a health problem in itself. Psychotherapist Jenny Packard, citing a study linking global warming to depression, told New Zealand newspaper The Dominion that media coverage of climate issues has cultivated an “insidious background of fear” that can “increase anxiety in those already suffering from excessive worry.”

Headline Links: Climate change in human terms

Opinion and Analysis: ‘Fear itself’ as a symptom, global warming’s death toll

Background Links: Direct and indirect human costs, unequal risks

Reference: Climate change facts and resources


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