Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.
Over the last decade, the topic of climate change has become a highly contentious issue. Some skeptics think that global warming is a myth, while others claim that it is a serious event that is changing our world. I have written extensively on this topic, and more detail can be found in my article titled “Morris Esformes Discusses How Climate Change Is Affecting The United States.” Essentially, the facts are in and it does seem to be true that the Earth’s climate is rapidly changing. This is evidenced by the expansion of the tropics, which now span an additional 310 miles when compared to 25 years ago. Obviously, as various climates are impacted by warmer temperatures and more extreme weather, local ecosystems are going to be impacted. This means that humans may face health concerns that are not traditional or common for their area of the world.
Health Concern #1: Disease
One of the biggest health concerns that relates to changing climate conditions is the spread of tropical diseases into traditionally temperate regions. Malaria and dengue fever are two of the most notorious tropical diseases that have the potential to cause thousands if not millions of new deaths each year if they are able to infiltrate new territories. In order to address this problem, public education campaigns and mass vaccination campaigns need to be developed quickly, as pathogens can spread and evolve rapidly when given the chance to move into a new territory.
Health Concern #2: Droughts
Drought is another health concern that global warming threatens. As the tropical band expands around the midsection of the Earth, the prevalence of droughts also increases. This means less fresh water for people to drink and cook with, and less water for sanitation functions like bathing and cleaning. Droughts also lead to famine as crops dry up and farmlands turn to dust bowls. The solution to this problem involves a lot of infrastructure work and development projects. It will involve the creation of water management and conservation programs, the development of desalination programs, and the development of drought-resistant crops.
Health Concern #3: Mass Migration
As local climates change and desertification increases, there will undoubtedly be numerous mass migrations of people into areas where the climate is suitable for sustainable communities. However, this mass migration will cause the spread of disease, the overwhelming of local ecosystems, and it will also increase the chances of large-scale violence and human tragedy. The solution to this problem will rely on the ability of local governments to find solutions to the problems caused by local climate change, such as increasing funding for community wells, farming projects, and cooling system subsidies.
Health Concern #4: Extreme Weather
Extreme weather is also bound to create serious health concerns. For example, as temperatures climb the chances that a community will experience sustained temperatures above 100 degrees will increase. This means more people will be susceptible to heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat related deaths. The solution to this problem is to educate the public about heat and extreme weather safety and to provide a subsidy program to help people afford central air conditioning in their homes and apartments.
As a Miami native, climate change is something that is extremely important to me. You can check out some of my additional writing on the impact of humans on the Earth’s climate on my personal blog, “The Morris Esformes Blog.”
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