Climate change is making us sick

A new book lays out in precise detail the frightening effects of climate change on our health, including a rise in allergens, heat stress, poor air quality and food insecurity.

Stanford wilderness medicine expert Paul Auerbach and Jay Lemery, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado, have written a book that explores in detail how human afflictions are on the rise due to anthropogenic environmental change.

Due to be published next month, Enviromedics: The Impact of Climate Change on Human Health is meant to be a call to action for everyone, not just physicians.

“We don’t see the world moving fast enough to protect the planet, so perhaps by moving the discussion to human health we can hasten some sort of reasonable response,” Auerbach said in a statement. “Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are already causing a considerable health impact, such as floodwaters contaminated with bacteria and toxins, drowning deaths, disruption of essential medical care and even floating fire ant colonies.”

The book lays out in disturbing detail how human afflictions are proliferating due to anthropogenic environmental change, and it’s likely to only get worse. More intense heat waves are killing the sick and the elderly; increasing air degradation sends asthma sufferers into serious and sometimes deadly attacks; hotter temperatures are spreading mosquito-borne diseases.

Lemery said, “On the hottest day of the year, patients come to the ER with heart attacks, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] exacerbations and diabetes complications. If you do what we do, it’s not that hard to see the link between global warming and human illness.”

The authors warn that if nothing is done to curtail climate change, it will do much more than cause the extinction of polar bears: It may threaten humanity.

“This is an inventory of what happens when our environment goes haywire, and all the checks and balances of an ecosystem are gone,” Lemery said. “We should all pause. We should all worry.”

 

Image credit: roujo via Flickr

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