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Effects of Climate Change on the General Health of Canadians and Americans

When we look at the health effects of climate change they can be divided into two main categories for direct effects and then there are indirect consequences as well.

The temperature effects of climate change, is the first health worry. There will be more incidences of heat stroke, and dehydration expected in Canada and the USA because of the rising temperatures. Recent studies point to the vulnerability of the elderly and the very young. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that climate change induced deaths for many people in the northern United States especially around large metropolitan areas like Boston, where the poor do not have air conditioning will result from the intense heat. Similarly the hot muggy, humid weather coupled with longer heat waves will lead to deaths in many Canadian cities as well.

Direct health effects of climate change will also cause illness and death as a result of flash floods and tornadoes in parts of Canada and the USA. The hotter temperatures will shorten winters in Canada and create winter storms that can lead to deaths as well.

Besides direct health effects of climate change that will afflict the Canadian and American populace there are indirect health effects of climate change to be considered. As people travel northward from the southern parts of the globe so do insects seeking new habitats. Mosquitoes carrying various assortments of diseases such as dengue fever, yellow fever and malaria will make their way upward into the Unites States and then Canada.

High temperatures influence the rising levels of smog, created by the pollutants in the air including carbon dioxide and methane gases. The increase in smog filled cities will create indirect health effects of climate change when more and more people suffer from respiratory and other health related problems. Again, children and seniors will be at high risk for these cardio respiratory problems (including asthma, allergies, emphysema and chronic bronchitis). People already suffering from these diseases will be further put at risk. The trees and vegetation will add to the effects of climate change by producing more pollen and aggravating the situation.

The effects of climate change will have dire consequences on fresh water supplies. Such natural occurrences such as droughts, tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes can tamper with the sewage systems, and water filtration installations, creating water shortages, or polluted standing water. It may also affect our drinking water. These conditions could lead to the rise of bacteria, infectious diseases, viruses (protozoa and parasites) and injuries.

The disruption of the ecosystems could have serious implications for native peoples who hunt and fish and depend upon various types of wildlife for sustenance. Dietary change could also lead to some health conditions.

The health effects of climate change will not only affect physical medical conditions, but social and psychological factors will be on the rise when people have to relocate, loss work because of illness, and generally feel ill at ease. All these conditions and more yet to be discovered will put a heavy burden upon the Canadian and American economies in terms research, medical, psychological, environmental and social programs.

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