The numbers: According to a 2009 edition of The Lancet, a leading general medical journal, "Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century ... the impacts will be felt all around the world — and not just in some distant future but in our lifetimes and those of our children.
The story: Complements of the Natural Resource Defense Council, here are a few instances of the effects of global warming in the past decade:In the summer of 2003, an intense heat wave was blamed for an estimated 35,000 deaths across large swaths of Europe. A study says that global warming has doubled the likelihood of heat waves of this magnitude.
Scientists found in 2008 that poison ivy vines have grown 10 times denser near Savannah, Ga., over the last 20 years. Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes poison ivy to grow larger and produce stronger irritants.
Six young men and boys were killed by fatal parasites in 2007 at Lake Havasu, Ariz., after they swam in water infested with a heat-loving amoeba. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expect more of these illnesses as global temperatures rise.
Mosquitoes that carry malaria were found at never-before-seen elevations on Mount Kenya in 2006. As temperatures rise, higher elevations become more hospitable for mosquitoes -- and more dangerous for local inhabitants.
How you can help: When you think of climate change, you probably think of melting glaciers and deteriorating animal habitat, which I will be discussing in my next posts. I certainly did. The fact that the health effects of climate change are not considered the most important aspect of this debate, despite the Lancet's aforementioned statement, is troubling. More than anything, the inability to convey and stress the numerous effects of climate change to the public is the single largest problem surrounding this debate. That is why it is up to us to do our part in spreading the story behind the numbers with climate change. Attached is a two page document from the Natural Resource Defense Council which addresses the most serious health effects of climate change. (http://www.nrdc.org/health/files/climatehealthfacts.pdf) Read it and send it along to family and friends. I, for one, was simply unaware of how far-reaching the effects of climate change will be and I am sure there are many others out there similar to me who could use this information.