For centuries, well before the basic notions of infectious diseases were understood, humans have realized that climate changes effect epidemic diseases (Patz et al.). The Roman aristocracy retreated to the hills each summer to avoid malaria and the South Asians learned that early in the summer, heavily curried foods were less likely to cause diarrheal diseases (Patz et al.). Patz et al. stated that there have been three distinct transition periods that changed the human to microbe relationship. Those three transition periods are: 1) Early human settlements enabling enzootic infective species to enter the human population, 2) Early Eurasion civilizations swapped dominant infections by military and commercial contact, and lastly, 3) European expansionism over the past five centuries caused the spread of often lethal infectious diseases. They also state that we could be in the fourth transition, with climate change having a wide range of impacts on the occurrence of infectious diseases in human populations.
Most climate scientists agree that the main cause of global climate change is the human expansion of the greenhouse effect. This is the global warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space (climate.nasa.gov). The main gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons (climate.nasa.gov). Human activities are changing the natural greenhouse effect. The burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (climate.nasa.gov). Carbon dioxide levels have increased from 280 parts per million to 379 parts per million in the last 150 years due to human activities (climate.nasa.gov).
Global climate changes that have already been documented are increased global surface temperature, rising sea level, decreased arctic and alpine snow and ice and evidence of plants and animals responding to these changes by moving to higher elevations or closer to the poles. Precipitation has increased in some parts of the world while decreasing in others (Mills et al. 2010).
There is a close relationship between climate, environment and infectious diseases in the developing world (Greer et al. 2008). For example, the importance of rainfall and drought in malaria occurrence, the influence of the dry season on epidemic meningococcal disease in the sub-Saharan African “meningitis belt”, and the importance of warm ocean waters contributing to the cholera occurrence in the Ganges River delta and other areas in Asia (Greer et al. 2008). The relationship between ecosystems, infectious diseases and climate change is not considered as much of an issue in developed countries such as North America, however, the climate changes predicted to occur in the coming decades are likely to increase the incidence of infectious diseases occurring in more developed regions of the world (Greer et al. 2008)....