The previous two posts have been on the issue of global warming. The first, focused on the confusion surrounding this topic. Yesterday’s post, What Are The Dangers of Global Warming, went on to describe the effects that global warming is predicted to have – and in some cases, has already had, on the earth’s ecosystems. Today, we will focus on the dangers of global warming to people all over the world.
Global Warming Dangers to People
Global Warming Threats to Human Life
Extreme weather will become more frequent and more dangerous. This was touched on in yesterday’s post about the dangers to ecosystems too. But it deserves mention here since it is a double-edged sword. Checking the statistics of the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) you will find that the previous decade was the hottest since record-taking began over a 100 years ago. Eight of the 10 hottest years have occurred since the year 2000! This heat is speeding evaporation from the world’s oceans and affecting world-wide weather patterns.
The human toll of this evaporation cycle is seen everyday on the world news.
- Thousands in Africa and Asia dying of malnutrition and lack of clean drinking water due to prolonged drought. The NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) states that the percentage of the earth’s surface coping with drought has more than doubled since 1970.
- People in Indonesia and other parts of the world are being driven from their homes and farms due to historic flooding
- Wildfires are increasing, destroying homes in the southwest United States
- Hundreds dead in increasingly frequent and intense hurricanes in the United States. According to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) the incidence of destructive hurricanes has doubled over the previous 20 years and the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has doubled since the 1970s. With more powerful storms also comes more destructive storm surges – always the most deadly part of any hurricane. Low-lying coastal cities such as Miami, Charleston, Wilmington, New Orleans,Galveston and even Washington D.C. are particularly vulnerable to storm surge and coastal flooding dangers.
Global Warming Threats to Human Health
Global warming is a threat to people worldwide. It causes and will continue to cause more and more deaths from weather extremes and diseases. According to the WHO (World Health Organization) it is believed that even the small increase in the average temperature that has occurred since the 1970′s is responsible for at least 150,000 deaths per year and the estimate is that this figure will double by the year 2030. They say this is a conservative estimate! But what are the real threats to human life due to global warming?
- Heat waves usually occur about once ever 20 years. However, this has been happening with increasing frequency. If the current trend continues, we could be seeing deadly heat waves about every other year. In 1995, a heat wave in Chicago killed more than 700 people. By current estimates, Chicago could be the victim of this type of heat wave up to three times per year! The world’s deadliest heat wave struck Europe in August 2003. A staggering 27,000 people in England, France, Germany and other parts of Europe died from the heat wave. More than 14,000 people died in France alone. Survivors of the heat wave also suffered from dehydration, heat stroke, advanced stages of shock and fevers as well as irreversible brain damage.
- Worsening air quality is another deadly outcome of global warming. Smog (ground-level ozone) forms in sunny, stagnant conditions. The heat is a double-whammy. Higher temperatures cause higher vehicle emissions and also speeds up the chemical reactions that form ozone in the atmosphere. Many people, especially young children and older adults, are more sensitive to pollutants in the atmosphere and deaths from respiratory illness and asthma have been increasing over the past decades due to this worsening air quality. The number of Americans with asthma alone has more than doubled in the last 20 years to over 20 million!
- The spread of diseases is another danger. Tropical diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, ebola and others could be extremely virulent in areas which were previously too cold to support such diseases. The people newly exposed to such diseases will not have an immunity to them built up over generations and will therefore, suffer greatly from such diseases. The death rate for these diseases and others like them, will increase dramatically. Cold weather reduces the spread of infectious diseases by killing infectious organisms and their carriers, such as, mosquitoes. Global warming could increase the spread of these diseases by increasing the area that the disease carriers can thrive.
- Deadly insects and animals can now exist in more northern areas and in urban areas. Until recently, if you thought of a Python or Cobra snake, you probably thought of India or the Amazon. Since Hurricane Andrew in south Florida – you can now add Florida to that mix. Many exotic pet stores were damaged in the hurricane and their snakes were lost. They are now thriving and breeding in the Everglades and are being found more and more often in populated areas. Because Florida’s temperatures are warmer and more like their original habitats, these snakes are thriving and frighteningly, they are moving north as temperatures northward are increasing. Fire ants and the deadly African Bee are other examples of species that are making their way northward as temperature increase and becomes more hospitable to them. This trend will only increase in the coming years.
As you can see, there are devastating consequences to unchecked global warming. Read on for additional information…
The Deadly Consequences of Climate Change Inside Climate News
Heat-Related U S Deaths Could Increase By 150000 By Century’s ThinkProgress