Friday, October 30, 2009

Could global warming be making us sick

Unless you've been living under a rock or perhaps stranded on an uncharted island with Gilligan and the rest of the crew, you've most likely bear witness or even been a part of the hoopla and hype surrounding the dreaded swine flue this year. Don't get me wrong, no one likes the flu or being hunched over and praying to the porcelain god in the bathroom, but at the same time this disease, in my opinion at least, has been blown a bit out of proportion. Still, it goes to show how scared everyone is of a big pandemic virus or disease; a sickness that will cross all borders and plague the world unhindered by a remedy. Would it scare you to know that consumer consumption and the effect that it has on global warming could prove more of a threat than any flu of the swine variety?

The increase in temperatures from global warming, not only create an environment more conducive to spreading infectious diseases but also one that makes the inhabitants of the region more susceptible go getting sick and then being unable to fend off the diseases. Malaria and dengue fever in particular have increased in cases, as the parasites or insects that act as carriers of the disease are allowed to live in more places they had not been able to previously due to improper temperatures not allowing them to thrive. Yet as the globe warms, they can migrate accordingly to then infect regions that had not experienced these diseases before. Further, as outside conditions get worse, or at least more extreme, the ill are then met with more stressors that can prevent them for getting any better.

Sadly, it is actually the poorer countries and regions of the earth and have the least amount of contributing gas emissions that look to be hit the hardest. This includes the coast of the Indian and Pacific oceans and sub-Saharan Africa. The leading lethal diseases have a direct correlation to temperature, and where malaria and other highly contagious diseases may have been a problem before, they are only being made worse. These affected countries are already strapped for means to contain such breakouts, and the added cases often lead to one fatal result. But those living in more developed regions shouldn't feel safe, because of the effect known as the urban 'heat island', the smog and trapped air proves itself to being more apt to disease outbreaks.

If we continue on this same road, make no amendments to the current consumer consumption agenda, by 2030 the sick cases and deaths attributed to global warming are looking to more than double as reported by the World Health Organization located in the University of Wisconsin. What could that number look like? Well the organization reported that the latest numbers were 150,000 deaths a year and 5 million sicknesses. If that's not enough motivation to curb carbon
emitting habits, I don't know what is!

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