CLIMATE CHANGE & HUMANITY
Health Organization (WHO) even defines it as “the greatest challenge to health in this century”. Climate change already has a direct and indirect effect on public health. The direct effects due to exposure to extreme temperatures, physiological injuries (including heat stroke and dehydration, damage to the function of the heart, nervous system, and kidneys, an increase in the rate of premature births and cognitive changes), and the aggravation of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Physical injuries and even death may be caused by extreme climate events, such as droughts, floods, heat waves, sandstorms, and fires. 1, 2
In addition to the direct effects on human health, the environmental changes caused by climate change indirectly affect human health, starting with the spread of disease-carrying insects (such as the Asian tiger mosquito, which may transmit the dengue and chikungunya viruses), through changes in the availability of water, the amount and composition of food, and ending with changes in air quality. 1, 2 Thus, for example, changes in the precipitation regime or extreme heat and cold events may cause serious damage to agricultural produce (livestock and plants), and even increase the risk of food spoilage due to the proliferation of bacteria and fungi. Also, early blooming and a longer blooming season resulting from high temperatures will worsen the condition of people suffering from allergies. 3 Finally, changes in weather patterns may affect the formation of pollutants and their movement and change the population’s exposure to them.
Climate change does not affect the entire population equally, and there are populations that are more exposed than others to the dangers inherent in them: children, the elderly, and populations of low socioeconomic status, and people who work outdoors. According to the World Health Organization, in the years 2030 to 2050, 250,000 additional deaths are expected annually in the world due to the effects of climate change. 4 The latest report of the Lancet Countdown project, published in 2019, emphasizes children’s sensitivity to climate change and states that if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced significantly, the world in which a child born today will live will be four degrees warmer than to the period before the industrial revolution, which would affect his health from infancy to old age. 2
The effects of climate change and their degree of severity depend on the population’s geographic location, demographic composition, socio-economic status, and degree of preparation for various climatic phenomena. 1 Animal populations in areas heavily affected by climate change may leave their place of residence and migrate to other areas (climate migration). For example, the warming trend in the southern parts of Africa, combined with poor health and environmental conditions. The administration is entrusted with inter-ministerial coordination, monitoring the implementation of the national strategy for preparation, implementing the plans, and updating them from time to time. The number of government ministries and bodies that are members of the administration is 35, and they staff seven committees that deal with the main recommendations for the strategy and national action plan for climate change.