The impact of climate change on human health is a matter of growing significance. Global warming has profound consequences for the functioning of our bodies, both physically and mentally. Extensive research and observations indicate a correlation between climate change and human health, with studies demonstrating that over 5 million people die annually due to extreme high temperatures attributed to climate change.

Climate warming and health

Climate change and its effects on health are widespread. It heightens the risk of severe health issues and increases the likelihood of heat strokes, overheating, and electrolyte imbalances. In 2021, the heatwave in Washington and Oregon alone resulted in over 600 additional deaths within a single week.
Another detrimental impact of rapid warming is the decline in air quality. Elevated temperatures contribute to atmospheric pollution, including tropospheric ozone. This substance can irritate the airways, exacerbate symptoms of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and elevate the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular ailments.

Impact of climate change on mental health

The abrupt climate changes we experience also have an impact on people’s mental health. Extreme temperatures, droughts, floods, and other associated consequences can contribute to an increase in mental health issues. Additionally, these phenomena can have a significant impact on social connections and overall quality of life. The weaker these bonds become, the greater toll it takes on our mental well-being. Many individuals begin to experience what is known as climate depression, an anxiety disorder triggered by the realization of the magnitude of threats associated with climate change. While not a new condition, it is a recognized disorder.

Rising healthcare costs

Climate change also imposes significant costs on healthcare services. Each year, numerous individuals are affected by new diseases or experience a worsening of existing conditions, leading to substantial healthcare expenditures. Researchers conducted an analysis of ten climate events that occurred in 2012, including wildfires in Colorado and Washington, ozone air pollution in Nevada, extreme heat in Wisconsin, infectious disease outbreaks like tick-borne Lyme disease in Michigan and mosquito-borne West Nile Virus in Texas, extreme weather in Ohio, impacts of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey and New York, allergenic oak pollen in North Carolina, and harmful algal blooms on the Florida coast. The findings revealed that even in 2018, six years after these events took place, they resulted in healthcare costs totaling approximately $10 billion.

Bartłomiej Haba