Climate change: a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular, a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
~ The Oxford Dictionaries
That’s the percentage of climate scientists who agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are mostly due to human activities.
97 out of 100 of some of the world’s most brilliant minds are pleading, to those who will listen, that we need to do something – and fast.
97 percent is the equivalent of a scientific consensus. A scientific fact, in other words. Other scientific facts include the Earth being round, and that evolution is real.
The United States, the single greatest emission-producing country in the world, has been slow to implement any significant climate policy. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that the American public is catching on. In a March 2017 poll conducted by Gallup, 62% of Americans say the effects of global warming are happening now. 45% “worry a great deal” about the issue.
Climate change is a humankind, environmental, and animal rights issue. It’s an issue in which we need to give a damn about – and more importantly – do something.
“What are the signs of climate change?”
The evidence, as presented by most climate scientists and leading scientific organizations (e.g., NASA, The Academy of Sciences) is irrefutable. Consider the following pieces of evidence put forth by NASA:
– Global temperature rise: The Earth’s surface temperature has increased by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit. 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001.
– Warming oceans: The top 700 meters (2,300 feet) of oceans have warmed .302 degrees since 1969.
– Melting sea ice: Both the total area and total thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last few decades.
– Disappearing ice landmarks: For example, the snowcap atop Mount Kilimanjaro in Japan has been steadily melting.
– Sea level rise: Global sea level has risen about 8 inches in the last hundred years.
– Ocean acidification: Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, acid levels in the ocean’s water have risen by 30 percent.
– Extreme events: Since 1950, the U.S. has seen a dramatic increase in the number of devastating weather phenomena.
Climate change and global warming matter for many reasons; the main concerns being environmental and survival/health related.
Human Health and Climate Change
So, how is human health affected by climate change? Here are five serious health problems listed by Paul R. Epstein, the associate director for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School:
1. Allergies and Asthma
The number of asthma suffers in the U.S. has doubled since 1980. That’s right: a potentially life-threatening condition has skyrocketed two-fold in just over 25 years.
Rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, and warmer surface temperatures increase the amount of pollen released into the air. The molecules within pollen which stimulate an allergic reaction rise in proportion to CO2 levels. In other words, an allergy attack – something that’s already frightening and dangerous – is even more so.
As mentioned, of the hottest 17 years ever recorded, 16 have occurred since 2001. Very hot temperatures don’t just raise the monthly energy bill, they threaten both human and animal life.