Center Spread: This Makes Me Sick! How Climate Change Contributes to Health Issues

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels

By Leah Romero, age 11 and IndyKids Staff

Climate change causes all manner of catastrophes around the world, and according to researchers, it can also have a direct impact on our health and wellness. A new study conducted by Harvard University found that one in five global deaths is caused by fossil fuel pollution. “Our study adds to the mounting evidence that air pollution from ongoing dependence on fossil fuels is detrimental to global health,” said professor Eloise Marais of University College, London in a press release.

Bats are known carriers of coronaviruses, and new research conducted at the University of Cambridge found that climate change affecting vegetation in the region has expanded the habitat of coronavirus-carrying bats in southern China, meaning that climate change “may have played a key role” in the pandemic.

The results of this study have many scientists concerned that climate change could make pandemics more prevalent in the future. However, it is likely that climate change is not the only culprit. With deforestation and the expanding animal trade, the virus would have been easily spread between the bats and their handlers. 

For people with allergies, climate change might be a problem. In a study conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that as the planet gets warmer, pollen seasons last longer. The study found that there has been a 21% increase in pollen since 1990.  Allergies can seriously impact public health, leading to worsening cases of asthma and respiratory conditions.

The Harvard researchers also found that China’s decision to cut its fossil fuel emissions nearly in half saved 2.4 million lives worldwide by 2018, which provides solid evidence that policy change can ultimately lead to improving climate conditions and human health. Climate change is hurting the planet and people’s health, so we need to find ways to reduce and reverse climate change. If not, these climate-related health issues will continue to worsen.

Deforestation: The clearing, or cutting down, of forests

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