The Effects of Climate Change on Health and Communities

By Anna Pham


Abstract:

Climate change poses many risks to human health. Changes in our climate can result in impacts on local air quality. Conversely, air quality can impact climate change. According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change will impair human health by increasing ground-level ozone and, in some areas, particulate matter air pollution. Due to the impact of climate change, air quality is decreased, which introduces several harmful effects on the environment and significantly on our health.


How The Quality of Air Is Affected:

As the summers heat up, the air we breathe is increasingly at risk of becoming harmful, despite decades of air quality improvements. Hotter summers come with an increase in stagnation events. Air pollution is causing the climate to change and vice versa, establishing an unhealthy never-ending cycle. Because of climate warming, the Earth experiences more extreme weather, such as heatwaves, and air quality is negatively affected. Heatwaves cause an increase in ground-level ozone pollution because the chemical reactions that create ozone in the atmosphere occur more often in hotter temperatures. During heat waves, high-pressure areas create stagnant air that concentrates air pollutants. As a result of climate warming, prolonged high temperatures can often lead to drought conditions which can cause forest fires. Those forest fires release carbon monoxide and particulates and are more common. That's not all. Dry and dusty air during periods of hot weather also increases the amount of particulate pollution.


Ground-Level Ozone is formed when heat and sunlight allow the reaction of two pollutants: nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds.


Environmental and Human Health Concerns:

Climate change raises sea levels and frequent more extreme and intense precipitation, exposing contaminated water as well as disruptions to essential infrastructure. Increased coastal and in-land flooding negatively impacts us by exposing us to many negative impacts. Changes in temperature and extreme weather events play a key role in causing wildfires which pollute our air and destroy wildlife habitat. Exposure to high temperatures and lowered humanity can also increase the risk of Lyme disease-causing bacteria. Ground-level ozone, a key component of smog and a pollutant, is associated with many health problems such as diminished lung function. Every month of 2020 except December was in the top four warmest on record for that month (Global Climate Report from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information 2020). In 2021, Portugal had a warm March, with a national average temperature of 0.66°C above the 1981–2010 average. The nation's above-average mean temperature, mainly driven by a very high national maximum temperature, ranked as the fifth-highest March maximum temperature since 2000. Hong Kong also had its warmest March on record. Its mean temperature was 2.9°C above the 1981–2010 average. The global surface temperature for January through March 2021 tied with 2007 as the ninth highest for this year-to-date period, at 0.76°C above the 20th-century average. The year 2021 was likely to rank among the ten warmest years on record and only has a 6% chance to rank among the five warmest years on record (NCEI Scientists 2021). Albeit warming has not been uniform across the planet, the upward trend in the globally averaged temperature shows that more areas are warming rather than cooling.


Conclusion :

Climate change is a widely discussed topic that must portray as a public health issue. Natural variability continues playing a crucial role in extreme weather; climate change has moved the chances and changed the limitations. Extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common and intense. While research on how climate change affects extreme weather is still in its early stages, evidence suggests extreme weather may be affected far more than previously thought. Extreme weather is on the rise, and all signs point to it continuing to rise, posing a threat to our ecosystem and human health. But, one by one, we must take steps to address climate change, a serious environmental issue with the potential to harm our communities and us.


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