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With a myriad of hazards accompanying the incursion of global warming, the world is, no doubt, at the receiving end of the health implications. However, experts agree that such hazards, though can’t be eradicated, can be reduced by observing some basic tips. Adekunle Tayo writes on these health hazards and the useful tips. Excerpts:
TREES are wrenched from the earth, telephone poles snap like toothpicks, walls collapse and water engulfs the land, signalling the commencement of a hurricane which produces a thrilling effect on the environment.
Such is the fury with which the impact of global warming wreaks havoc on the environment and people therein across the world.
Experts agree that climatic changes triggered by global warming could bring in their wake extreme conditions such as abnormal storms, drought and floods and could be of immediate threat to life.
Environmentalists postulated that, for instance, extreme temperatures caused by climate change can directly cause death due to heat strokes especially in the old and young people. Studies based on earlier heat wave events foresee a 145 per cent rise in deaths in New York.
“Adverse impact of climate stress on agriculture worldwide may add 300 million victims of malnutrition to the existing number,” remarked an expert.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientist projected that warmer climates will increase malaria-carrying mosquitoes and put 65 per cent of the world’s population at risk of malarial infection; an increase of 20 per cent from the 1990s. It added that warm temperatures will aggravate air and water pollution and pose health hazards.
Essentially global warming is all about adverse climate change caused by trapping of green house gases (like carbon dioxide) in the earth’s atmosphere that affects biodiversity and poses a serious health hazard.
Naturally occurring green house gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapour, methane, ozone and nitrous oxide hold heat in the atmosphere, creating a green house effect and keeping the earth warm enough to sustain life. There is also the enhanced green house effect due to human activities like burning of solid waste, wood, fossil fuels like oil and natural gas, deforestation and the release of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and Sulfur hexaflouride (SF6) from industrial processes. This cause more than normal heat to be trapped in the atmosphere and cause global warming.
The pulsating menace of global warming is here and experts have warned that global warming may soon become a risk factor for heat strokes, cardiovascular and respiratory problems.
“People with ailing hearts are, especially, vulnerable because the cardiovascular system has to work harder to cool the body in a very hot weather,” said a Lagos based medical doctor.
Another doctor told Nigerian Tribune that high air temperature increases the ozone concentration at ground level. According to him, “the natural ozone layer in the upper atmosphere protects the earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation; but at ground level, ozone becomes a harmful pollutant that damages lung tissue and aggravates asthma and other breathing problems. Even in healthy individuals, exposure to modest leveles of ozone can cause nausea, chest pain and pulmonary congestion.
“You remember what happened in Haitti after that devastating massive earthquake, scores of people were affected by cholera outbreak and died. This is the one of the effects of global warming.”
Also, in Nigeria, there have been increasing cases of cancer. Cancer is a deadly disease which can result from global warming.” remarked Br Bolaji Ajeigbe of JVM Clinic, Ibadan, Oyo State.
Dr. Bimbo Fadairo, another medical practitioner, said that apart from natural disasters which global warming has caused, the phenomenon has also been identified to be the cause of various skin cancers.
This effect has been traced to some radiations that emanate from the sun’s rays. This radiation abounds in parts of the earth’s surface where the ozone layer has been depleted. The ozone layer is a constituent of the earth’s atmosphere which prevents the radiation from the sun from reaching the earth’s surface.
In 2011, there were several cases of over flooding across the country, thousands of people became homeless. Most of the people displaced by flood have become refugees because no succour came their way.
On managing the suitation of global warming, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) are working hard with the view to finding a lasting solution to this menace. However, the candid advice to individuals is to ensure clean environment at all times. This would ensure that they do not contract any diseases through carelessness.
However, other health experts believe global warming is a convenient scapegoat to be blamed for increasing incidence of infectious diseases. They listed other factors contributing to increase in cases of infectious diseases to include; increasing disregard for public health practices, overcrowding of cities, rise in population of disease-carrying vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks, increase in international travel by people engendering germs travelling across the hemisphere, genetic mutation in disease-causing germs.
By and large, developed nations have the ability and infrastructure to quickly identify and take adequate measures to curb the problems that could result from global warming. These include; emergency measures such as moving people suffering from heat stroke to air conditioned rooms and stringent action to reduce the emission of petrochemical compounds that cause ground-level zone.
Developing and under-developed countries such as Nigeria, are seriously handicapped in these areas of infrastructure and failure to draft and implement stringent law to curtail activities of factories that contribute to air pollution and global warming.
The defunct Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) and State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) in Nigeria governed by the abolished Decree No 59 of 1992, tackled the problem of environmental degradation in Nigeria. Given the fact that Nigeria’s ecosystem is richly endowed with abundant and diverse resources on the vast land covering an area of 923,7773 sq kilometres. It is imperative that the coordinated and holistic approach to environmental management be adopted as is being done by the Ministry of Environment.
What to do to mitigate/ reduce global warming
As global citizens of this planet and more importantly Nigerians, we can do our own bit by helping out and control global temperatures from reaching dangerously high levels.
Certain body cream called sunscreen have been developed that can help to protect the skin from such harmful radiation. According to Dr. Fadairo, “people are advised to rub SPF (sun-screen) creams as a simple way to prevent skin cancers before they expose themselves to the sun.”
Other recommended measures are;
•Using less fossil fuels and electricity; switch off lights, fans, air conditioners, computers etc when not needed.
• Buying energy efficient products such as compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs,
•Recycling paper and plastics
• Using solar heaters to heat water
• Harnessing alternate sources of “clean” energy such as solar and wind energy that do not emit carbon dioxide.
• Avoid wastage of food and water.Share