Health Team

How climate change can affect your health

Posted April 21, 2016 9:57 a.m. EDT
Updated June 12, 2017 3:08 p.m. EDT

The term "universal agreement" is almost an oxymoron given how infrequently everyone can agree on something. However, that's exactly what the UN Climate Change Conference in December of 2015 hoped to achieve — a universal agreement on climate, from all nations of the world.

Unless you live under a rock, this probably isn't the first time you've heard of climate change (or its dire implications). The decade from 2000-2010 was the warmest on record, and the global average temperature rose 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, these rising global temperatures are accompanied by other changes, such as more frequent and severe heat waves and more intense rainstorms.

Long heat waves can alter the growing seasons such that there is more pollen in the air, which exacerbates many respiratory allergies and diseases. Additionally, increased global temperatures contribute to the depletion of stratospheric ozone. This results in increased UV radiation exposure, which can cause skin cancer and cataracts.

These changes affect the habitability of our planet by making it less temperate and negatively impacting our health. Using data from the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s report, “A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change,” HealthGrove examined these variables and how they might affect certain diseases.

Extrapolating from this information, diseases most adversely affected by heat, extreme weather events and pollution should see the biggest increases in worldwide health impact.

Note: This story was originally published in December of 2015.

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