Effects of global warming on human health

  • By Sahana Rajan

Global warming is the progressive increase in the temperature of the Earth. This is caused due to the excessive amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The primary greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, followed by methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases, and others. The irony of the situation is that we are on a roll to self-destruct our planet through our comforts. These greenhouse gases are produced when you use air conditioners, heaters, refrigerators, or cars and remain in the atmosphere for over thousands of years. They get mixed with the air. Thus, even though different countries produce varying amounts of these gases, all of us get affected by them.

Since the greenhouse gases are continuing to increase rapidly every year, so is the temperature of our planet. We can look forward to a series of radical changes in the climate which would in turn affect our bodies negatively. This is referred to as climate change. Though there are temporary and region-oriented benefits of this phenomenon like lesser deaths during winters, better harvest in certain regions; however, a holistic study tells us that global warming is bad news for all of us. It deteriorates the standard of factors which decides the health of our bodies, namely, air, water, food, and shelter.


Heat Waves- As the gases combine with the air, the temperature rises leading to extreme heat during both day and night. This is more pertinent to areas with high humidity. This occurrence can result in heat waves, leading to deaths.

Smog Formation- With the increase in the temperature, air tends to stay static for longer. The consequence is the buildup of smog that stays for a longer duration and is denser. This leads to lung diseases and other respiratory issues.


Lack of Drinking Water- If you have seen any documentary about Middle Eastern countries, then you would realize that the major problem in these nations is the absence of clean drinking water. People in rural areas often resort to drinking the dirty water in small, filthy pools on surface. Though they realize it is contaminated, it’s better to have something rather than die of dehydration. Digestive and respiratory issues are rampant in these regions.


Problems with Plants - Due to global warming, plants get more time to pollinate. This implies a longer period of allergy season. Moreover, due to warmer climate, poison ivy plants become more allergenic and there is higher population of rash-causing stinging nettles.

Impact on Livestock- Livestock can comfortably live only up to a temperature of 25 degree Celsius. Once there is rise in temperature over this, their metabolism crashes and they start eating less with low activity rate, and lastly, a decrease in their body weight. This negatively affects the production of meat and dairy products. Such an influence is more common in areas of high elevation where animals are not well-adapted to climate change.

Nutritional Value of Food- As the amount of carbon dioxide in the soilreaching the plant tissues increases, other nutrients like nitrogen, zinc, phosphorus, and iodine are reduced. The amount of protein in the plant also diminishes. Thus, we are left with plants filled with carbon dioxide and low levels of other nutrients essential for body development.

Depletion of Food- Did you know that today, about 1/6th of the global population does not have access to sufficient food? Consequently, the world’s population would rise up to 9 billion by 2050 and we would be ill-equipped to feed everyone leading to social unrest in many parts of the world.

According to a report on global warming by World Health Organization, an additional 140,000 people die every year since global warming was first seen to occur in the 1970s.


Natural disasters- On one hand, drought has become a common phenomenon in different parts of the world, leading to fires in forests and areas where vegetative matter is concentrated. On the other hand, flooding is a norm in areas with snow and rain due to the high amount of moisture in the air.

Spread of Diseases- Earlier, due to low temperatures in the higher latitudes, insects which are commoncarriers of diseases never flourished. However, they have expanded their locus of impact to these regions too. Higher temperature also entails breakout of contagious and communicable diseases.

Population in Poverty- People without proper shelters will find global warming hard to cope with.