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Climate Change And Rising Cancer Rates

1905 words - 8 pages

How does climate change increase people’s probabilities of developing cancer? Global warming, a rise in the average global temperature, is a form of climate change that has caused glaciers to melt, acid rain to form, and sea levels to rise killing both vegetation and animals. What you probably don’t know is that climate change is killing humans too. “Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide and accounted for 7.6 million deaths in 2008” , which is equivalent to the population of Bulgaria. Global warming will also increase exposure to toxic chemicals and heavy rainfall will wash the toxins into the water. The chance of developing cancer is increased due to the enhanced exposure to ultraviolet rays as a result of the deterioration of the ozone layer.
What is climate change and how does it happen? Climate change occurs when long-term climate patterns are altered through human activity (such as, industrial pollution and automobile exhaust). “Life on Earth is possible because of the warmth of the sun.” The majority of solar radiation bounces back into space; however, a small percentage becomes trapped by the gases that create Earth’s atmosphere, also as known as the ozone layer. The ozone layer is the protective layer that surrounds Earth and blocks the majority of the sun’s ultraviolet rays (radiation which is part of the electromagnetic spectrum) due to the molecular size of the ozone molecule. It blocks rays such as UV-C (100-280 nanometers) and UV-B (280-315 nm); however, it does not block UV-A (315-400 nm). According to the Center for Global Environmental Research at the National Institute for Environmental Studies Japan, UV-A is the main cause of cancer (melanoma), while UV-B is the cause for sunburns. The ozone layer is a natural gas found in the troposphere and stratosphere. The troposphere is the layer closest to the Earth’s surface and is composed of unhealthy to breathe ozone molecules (O3 or trioxygen, which is less stable than O2). The second layer is the stratosphere (6-30 miles above Earth’s surface) which is further away from the Earth’s surface and helps absorb harmful ultraviolet rays. Without an important layer of insulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas, Earth would merely be another frozen rock hurtling through space. Carbon is located throughout the planet in plants, the soil, animals, oceans, and humans. It is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide through human actions such as cutting down trees and burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas). As well, the release of environmental chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which are gases used in air condition systems and for the creation of foam and soap. Winds carry the CFCs to the stratosphere where they are broken apart by the ultraviolet radiation and released as chlorine atoms. The chlorine atoms then combine with the ozone molecules, resulting in the destruction of thousands of pure ozone molecules. Other hazardous environmental chemicals, which case the...

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