Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

A warming world is unhealthy for everyone

  • Written by  Marco Magrini
  • Published in Climate
A warming world is unhealthy for everyone
06 Oct
2018
Marco Magrini finds that a warming world also means a more unhealthy one, not just for the planet itself, but for those of us living on it

What’s bad for the planet is usually bad for human health. In other words, the current warming trends don’t spell good news for the well-being of our species... or for many others. 

There are exceptions. Insects will thrive as the warmer temperatures increase their metabolic and reproductive rates, as well as their appetite. Not only will this encourage the spread of Zika, West Nile and Chikungunya viruses carried by mosquitoes, but also tick-borne Lyme disease which is already on the rise. According to a paper recently published in Science, insects in the future are expected to devour a much higher percentage of crops than they do at present - around five to 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, a team of Harvard scientists has calculated that, under the CO2 concentration expected by mid-century, crops will carry less zinc, iron and proteins, casting the shadows of massive nutrient and micronutrient deficiencies, at least in poorer countries.

Richer countries, long thought to be more resilient to climate change, have discovered this summer that they are not. In Japan, a heatwave killed dozens of people and hospitalised 22,000. Forests were burning in Sweden and an African record temperature was registered in Algeria at 51.3oC. In Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, the air was unbreathable for days as the three cities, which usually benefit from the pristine forests that surround them, were engulfed in smoke from British Columbia wildfires. 

Air quality was even worse in Mumbai, Jakarta and Beijing, where coal combustion dims the light, clogs the lungs and further warms the atmosphere. According to the World Health Organization, humans’ dependency on fossil fuels leads to seven million people dying prematurely every year because of high pollution levels.

A new study, published in Nature Climate Changein August, found that there is a strong correlation between higher temperatures and mental instability, even inducing higher suicide rates. In a warmer world, even the human nervous system will perform worse.

‘The world is facing a true planetary health emergency,’ warns The Lancet’s most recent editorial. In other words, what’s bad for the planet, is bad for human health.

This was published in the October 2018 edition of Geographical magazine

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter and get a free collection of eBooks!

geo line break v3

Related items

Subscribe to Geographical!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Climate

Marco Magrini looks at the financial pressures spilling out into the…

Geophoto

Few sights are more dramatic than a star-filled sky at…

Polar

A region of Antarctica previously known for relative stability is…

Tectonics

Everything we thought we knew about eruptions could be wrong

Oceans

Sea levels are rising across the globe, but along the…

Polar

Seismometers buried in the Ross Ice Shelf have revealed that…

Wildlife

A tightening of restrictions on the insecticides known as neonicotinoids…

Wildlife

Bonnethead sharks, the second smallest member of the hammerhead family,…

Nature

There’s more than enough plastic in the world. That’s why,…

Wildlife

The recent discovery of more than 200 million termite mounds…

Geophoto

The new year still remains a popular time to set…

Wildlife

After decades battling environmental crises that threaten to rob the…

Climate

As another new year beckons and the fight to protect…

Geophoto

A half century has passed since the ‘Earthrise’ photograph – widely believed to have…

Wildlife

Are howler monkeys being adversely affected by ingestion of pesticides containing…

Tectonics

Why unprepared tourists are putting themselves at risk in order…

Geophoto

The majestic and mighty polar bear is in danger of…

Wildlife

Exciting news for wildlife and photography enthusiasts alike – the…

Wildlife

A new system of robotic aerial vehicles is revolutionising the…

Wildlife

Technology used in creating safe urban environments is now being…