The Impact of Global Warming on Human Health
Throughout the world, the presence of particular diseases and other threats to human health depend largely on the local climate. Extreme variation in temperature can directly, and indirectly, cause the loss of human life. The threat of a gradual increase in temperature could be catastrophic to the world, as we know it. In 1999, a heat wave killed more than 250 people in Chicago alone (Union of Concerned Scientists). Many consider such an event as a natural disaster. However, scientists warn the average global temperature has increase 0.5 ° F in the past 40 years. This is half of the total increase in surface temperature, 1°F, since the late 19th century. At its current rate, the global temperature could rise 2° to 6°F in the next 100 years (Union of Concerned Scientist).
Such a drastic increase in the rate of temperature increase is due to the industrial revolution. In the past 40 years, the world has seen a drastic increase in population and the use of fossil fuels (gasoline, oil, coal or natural gas). These fuels are used to run our cars, heat and cool our homes, manufacture goods in our factories and to ship goods for worldwide consumption. The focus, until lately, has been to produce maximum product at a minimum price to maximize profit. Little to no care was taken to minimize the amount of fossil fuels used in the production of goods. Recently, it has become evident that such practices lead to the production of greenhouse gases. Whenever fossil fuels are burned for energy, greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide builds up in the earth’s atmosphere (Union of Concerned Scientists).
Another reason why greenhouse gases have increased is due to the decrease in the amount of plant life, commonly called deforestation. Plant life is the only thing known on earth to consume carbon dioxide. However, due to the need of raw materials (wood and paper pulp), industrial nations tend to cut down more trees than they can reforest (Fuller 454). Also, toxins produced as a by-product of industrialization have killed plant life. Therefore, a greater amount of carbon dioxide is being produced at the same time less carbon dioxide is being consumed, leading to dangerous consequences.
The combination of pollutants and deforestation has lead to what is commonly called the Greenhouse Effect. The term “Greenhouse Effect” comes from the understanding that pollutants thickening the earth’s atmosphere keep heat trapped in the atmosphere. Thereby leading to an increase in the earth’s temperature, or Global Warming. Although, a increase of a few degrees over hundreds of years doesn’t seem like much to some people, the variance is great enough to allow some deadly bacteria to thrive and disease to spread. Moreover, warmer temperatures can increase air and water pollution, which could harm human health.
In the past few years, there has been an increasing amount of reports that correspond...