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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 69-70

Global warming and health: Still not too late

Department of Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Dammam, Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Date of Web Publication9-Mar-2016

Correspondence Address:
Hassan Bella
P.O. Box 1982, Dammam 31441
Saudi Arabia
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DOI: 10.4103/1658-631X.178273

PMID: 30787700

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How to cite this article:
Bella H. Global warming and health: Still not too late. Saudi J Med Med Sci 2016;4:69-70

How to cite this URL:
Bella H. Global warming and health: Still not too late. Saudi J Med Med Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 Mar 2];4:69-70. Available from: https://www.sjmms.net/text.asp?2016/4/2/69/178273

Global warming, or more precisely, climate change, is no more a speculation but a confirmed certainty. Global average surface temperatures have increased by about one degree Fahrenheit since the beginning of the 20 th century. [1] If the current trend of global warming continues, it will lead to disequilibrium in the ecosystem. It will then be less likely that human societies will be able to adapt without serious resultant consequences. The consequences of global warming will be rapid and severe than any which have seriously affected Homosapiens. [2]

The good news, however, is that it is still not too late if we address global warming now; as the action cannot be delayed. Here are some alarming statistics about climate change: Global warming is expected to cause 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050. [3]

  1. 38,000 deaths due to heat exposure in the elderly
  2. 48,000 deaths due to diarrhea
  3. 60,000 deaths due to malaria
  4. 95,000 deaths due to childhood undernutrition.

Eight million deaths will be caused by ambient and household air pollution and direct damage costs to health are estimated to be USD 2-4 billion per year by 2030. [3]

There are indicators that many diseases will surge as the earth heats up and there are signs that the predicted hazards have begun to appear. [4] Climate change will affect the social and environmental determinants of health and is expected to increase the prevalence of malnutrition. It will strongly influence malaria as it lengthens the transmission season of vector diseases. [5] It is also expected that global warming will have negative impacts on dengue fever, HIV/AIDS, mental health, and an increase in cholera outbreaks and allergy related diseases. [1]

In December 2015, the UN climate change conference (COP 21) negotiated the Paris global agreement on the reduction of climate change. The expected key result is a binding universal commitment to set a goal of limiting climate change to <2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. [6]

Scientists warn that "window of opportunity is closing quickly, and we must begin to curb climate change emission within the next 10 years to prevent the worst impacts from occurring". However, we already possess the scientific, technical, and industrial know-how to greatly reduce global warming pollution. As a serious problem causing ill health, global warming should be included in medical and other curricula. For qualified doctors, it should be part of the Continuing Medical Education program. Physicians and public health professionals should be able to educate the lay people on the risks and hazards of global warming.
"The cost of coping with health risks linked to climate change is often higher than the cost of curbing heat-trapping emissions in the first place." [7] In this issue of our journal Professor Taha of the Johns Hopkins University writes a commentary on the state of climate science in relation to the potential impact on communicable and noncommunicable diseases in North America and the Middle East.

  References Top

Physicians for Social Responsibility. The Medical and Public Health Impacts of Global Warming: A Fact Sheet. Available from: http://action.psr.org/site/DocServer/Global_warming_Fact_sheet_references.pdf?docID=862. [Last accessed on 2016 Feb 15].  Back to cited text no. 1
Cook GC. Effect of global warming on the distribution of parasitic and other infectious diseases: A review. J R Soc Med 1992;85:688-91.  Back to cited text no. 2
WHO. Climate Change and Health. Fact Sheet No. 266. Available from: http://www.who.int./mediacentre/factsheets/fs266/en/. [Last updated on 2015 Sep].  Back to cited text no. 3
Epstein PR. Is global warming harmful to health? Scientific American 2000;283:50-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
Wikipedia. Effects of Global Warming on Human Health. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_global_warming_on_human_health [Last accessed on 2016 Jan 26].  Back to cited text no. 5
UN Convention on Climate Change. Available from: http://www.unfccc.int/meetings/paris_NOV_2015/meeting/8926/php. [Last accessed on 2015 Dec 30].  Back to cited text no. 6
Union of Concerned Scientists. Climate Hot Map. Global Warming Effects around the World. Health. Available from: http://www.climatehotmap.org/global-warming-effects/health.html. [Last accessed on 2016 Jan 03].  Back to cited text no. 7


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