It’s hard to read the health news without coming across some mention of the health effects of global warming and climate change. Extreme weather patterns play havoc with agricultural crops. Cold snaps out of season, torrential rains and floods, and droughts triggered by heat waves affect the survival of the foods farmers harvest every day. Of course, these are the same foods we buy at the local grocery store to give us all the vital nutrients we need to stay healthy.
But there are other, more hidden health costs of living with a so-called “large carbon footprint.” Scientists assert there will be increases in malnutrition and malaria. Malnutrition is the cause of most deaths in the developing world, and is increasing as a result of the effect of climate change on food crops.
Just how much can climate change affect a single population? The World Health Organization predicts that the number of people in Mali at risk of hunger will almost double from 34% to 70% by 2050. Other countries will be adversely affected as well.
Here in the U.S. and Canada, there are many ways to reduce the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and catastrophic disruption of weather patterns. The US Environmental Protection Agency has ranked the major greenhouse gas-contributing producers in the following order: industry; transportation; residential; commercial; and agricultural.
Individually, we all contribute to greenhouse gases when we heat and cool our homes, use electricity, and drive cars. You can lower your carbon footprint by choosing energy efficient cars, improving your home insulation so that less heat and/or cool air escapes to the outside, and using energy-efficient lighting.
Scientists argue that a transition to a low-carbon economy would bring together two of our biggest public health challenges: supporting action to improve public health and action to avert climate change as far as possible. Many of the policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will, in themselves, have beneficial effects on public health.
For more on temperature change and your health, read the article: A Link Between Weather and Life Expectancy Discovered.