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An Uncertain Future

Sean Owens Jr.


Is climate change really that bad? Is it that the consequences of climate change only concern the animals? Yes it is that bad, and it affects all living organisms around us. Global warming is a reality and it’s beginning to increasingly affect more individuals around the world today. The reality is that climate change impacts our health and our well-being. The earth has been warming at an alarming rate for years due to the ignorance of humans.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1300 scientists from 40 countries, revealed their research about what life would look like on Earth if temperatures were allowed to rise another 0.5 to 1.5 degrees Celsius. One of the main components that is currently changing is our health.

Impacts on our Health:

Changes in the greenhouse gas concentrations and other drivers alter the global climate and create a myriad of human health consequences. The environmental repercussions of climate change include things such as extreme heat waves, increasingly rising sea-levels, and various changes in precipitation. This results in frequent flooding, droughts, intense hurricanes, and overall degraded air quality. All of these factors directly and indirectly, affect the physical, social, and psychological health of humans overall. Climate change can also be a driver in disease migration, while simultaneously compounding the health effects resulting from the release of toxic air pollutants into populations that include individuals with pre-existing conditions. Air pollution has a strong positive correlation to seniors developing many neurologic disorders, which may include diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimers , and various other forms of dementias.

The hospital admission data that was recently obtained recorded a sample size of over 63 million older adults in the US. The adults studied in this experiment were more commonly associated with accelerated memory problems due to poor air quality. Air quality is also affected by changes in climate. For example, climate change has been associated with more wildfires because of the dryness of the air. Another example would be that the smog that comes from forest fires carry tiny particles that can cause breathing problems and heart diseases.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) conducted the Bio-specimen and fire effect study. This project seeks to understand how recent wildfires affected pregnant women and their babies.



This study examined the effects of the smoke that the wildfires produced. The study’s participants were pregnant women who resided in Northern California while the 2018, 2019, and 2020 wildfires occurred. Most subjects of the study were breathing a PM of 2.5. PM stands for particulate matter, which is the total of all solid and liquid particles hovering in the air. The majority of these particles tend to be hazardous. This complex mixture can include inorganic and organic substances such as smoke, pollen, and soot. Exposure to these particles can affect both your lungs and your heart negatively. There have been various studies that have linked particle pollution to numerous health problems such as decreased lung functionality. Even at these low levels of PM, it can still negatively influence the development and size of a child’s brain. The low levels of Particulate Matter still ultimately increase their overall risk of the cognitive and emotional difficulties they will face later in their adolescent years.

Air pollution has always been a common environmental health threat. We know that there is air pollution when we see a cloud of smoke reconcile over a city, or exhaust fumes across a busy highway, or a cloud rising from a bonfire. But contrary to popular belief, a lot of air pollution is actually not visible, but the smell can alert you. When the National Ambient Air Quality Standards were established in 1970, air pollution was regarded primarily as a threat to respiratory health. Air pollution researched has far advanced during the past few decade and found new things. New research had discovered that air pollution exposure was also associated with oxidative stress and inflammation inside of human cells, which results in the suffering from chronic diseases and illnesses such as cancer.

Air pollution can affect lung development and is involved in the development of emphysema, asthma, and other chronic respiratory diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Traffic-Related Air Pollution (TRAP) comes from motor vehicle emissions and is one of the most popular forms of air pollution. It contains most of the elements of human-made air pollution which include ground-level ozone, various forms of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and a fine particulate matter.

The Ozone is an atmospheric gas. People often refer to this as smog when at the ground level. What most people do not realize is that smog is produced when pollutants from cars, power plants, industrial factories, refineries, and several other chemicals come in contact with sunlight.

According to major public health organizations of the world, they have learned that climate change is a critical public health problem. Climate change worsens many of the existing diseases while introducing more pests and pathogens into the environment that surrounds us. As the planet gets increasingly warmer, oceans will begin to expand and while sea levels will elevate, and floods, droughts, and hurricanes become more frequent. It is our job to fight climate change for our future generations and we must begin to take a stand.

Here are some ways you can do your part to fight climate change:

Contact your representative

contact your member of congress or the senate. Ask him or her to support climate legislation and to push for it

Learn more about your Carbon Emissions

There is much more you can do reduce your household carbon emissions. You can also do your best to reduce them by using an online “carbon calculator”. You will be able to find this by searching on google.

Commute by carpooling or mass transit

Studies have shown that more than a quarter mile of the vehicles travelled by households are utilized commuting to and from work, with usually only one person in the vehicle. Carpooling and utilizing mass transit are amazing choices that offer large reductions in carbon emissions.

Plan and combine trips

When going on errands, shopping, or any trips that are nearby try to plan them out ahead of time to reduce the amount of miles that you drive. This will save you time and gas money.

Drive more efficiently

Try your best to avoid rapid acceleration and excessive breaking, otherwise known as don’t drive aggressively!

Promote “green energy” Alternatives

Switch to electricity generated by energy sources with low- to no- routine emissions of carbon dioxide. Contact your electricity provider to find out about the “green power” options available.

Come back and read more for more tips!

Sources

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/programs/geh/climatechange/health_impacts/index.cfm

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/programs/geh/climatechange/health_impacts/asthma/index.cfm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3601433/


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