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Climate Change Impact on Disability and Health

  • Revised/Updated: 2018/10/10
  • Synopsis : Reports, fact sheets and articles covering the impact of extreme weather and climate change events on people with disabilities and the world population.

Main Document

The effects of global warming resulting in climate changes have already begun to affect large parts of the world in terms of agriculture output, health hazards, and quality of life. Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner. Even coral reefs in Australasia have been damaged substantially leading to environmental problems within the ocean.

Impact of Climate Change

There is a scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, and that human activities are the primary driver.

Framing climate change as a public health concern seems to make the issue more relevant, significant and understandable to members of the public even some who don't generally believe climate change is happening.

"Re-defining climate change in public health terms should help people make connection to already familiar problems such as asthma, allergies and infectious diseases, while shifting the visualization of the issue away from remote Arctic regions and distant peoples and animals. The public health perspective offers a vision of a better, healthier future not just a vision of an environmental disaster averted." - Edward Maibach.

According to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the extent of climate change effects on individual regions will vary over time and with the ability of different societal and environmental systems to mitigate or adapt to change. Global surface temperatures have increased about 0.74 °C (plus or minus 0.18 °C) since the late-19th century, and the linear trend for the past 50 years of 0.13 °C (plus or minus 0.03 °C) per decade is nearly twice that for the past 100 years.

Agriculture and Food Security

As the Earth continues to get warmer, storms will become much larger and more frequent - Photo by Anandu Vinod on Unsplash.
As the Earth continues to get warmer, storms will become much larger and more frequent - Photo by Anandu Vinod on Unsplash.

Unless global temperature is controlled, the problems of food security due to reduction in agricultural productivity as a result of elevated temperature are not going to diminish. Already, agriculture has become vulnerable in the Canadian Prairies and Portugal where precipitation and wind movements have undergone radical change.

For the first time, a field test has demonstrated that elevated levels of carbon dioxide inhibit plants' assimilation of nitrate into proteins, indicating that the nutritional quality of food crops is at risk as climate change intensifies.

"Food quality is declining under the rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide that we are experiencing," said lead author Arnold Bloom, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences. "When this decline is factored into the respective portion of dietary protein that humans derive from these various crops, it becomes clear that the overall amount of protein available for human consumption may drop by about 3 percent as atmospheric carbon dioxide reaches the levels anticipated to occur during the next few decades," Bloom said.
(https://www.disabled-world.com/fitness/nutrition/foodsecurity/c02.php)

Freshwater environments around the world are already under excessive pressure from drainage, dredging, damming, pollution, extraction, silting and invasive species.

"One of the most serious impacts of climate change is how it will affect water resources around the world. Water is intimately tied to other resource and social issues such as food supply, health, industry, transportation and ecosystem integrity." - David Suzuki Foundation.

Health and Disability

Given that global warming will disproportionately affect the world's poor, and that the world's poor are disproportionately likely to be people with disabilities, it seems logical to assume those with disability in the developing world will bear the brunt of climate change impact.

By 2030, 350 million people worldwide will be affected by natural disasters. More awareness is needed of the particular needs of disabled people in emergencies.

People with disabilities, those with mobility issues, and the elderly are more vulnerable in emergencies. For example, 60% of the deaths caused by Hurricane Katrina were in people aged 65 or older.

Experts world over are continuously trying to analyze and study the global phenomena and in doing so specific area studies about the health problems and effects of eco-system and its implication like malaria are also being conducted for program and policy interventions.


Publications

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