The Health Effects Of Global Warming: Developing Countries Are The Most Vulnerable | United Nations (2022)

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The Health Effects Of Global Warming: Developing Countries Are The Most Vulnerable | United Nations (1)

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Paritosh Kasotia

Paritosh Kasotia is an International Program Manager at the Iowa Council for International Understanding. She is also President of the United Nations Association-Des Moines Chapter.

FromVol. XLIV, No. 2, "Green Our World!",2007

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that the increase in global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) is primarily due to fossil fuel use and, in a smaller but still significant level, to land-use change.

An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary by former United States Vice-President Al Gore, has also drawn public attention to the critical issue of global warming and how the burning of fossil fuels has increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Global warming can result in many serious alterations to the environment, eventually impacting human health. It can also cause a rise in sea level, leading to the loss of coastal land, a change in precipitation patterns, increased risks of droughts and floods, and threats to biodiversity. The effects are already evident in areas like Nunavut, Canada, where Inuit hunters are facing survival challenges due to the thinning of the ice. Explorer Will Steger gives an account of hunters in the Baffin Island, who are faced with the dilemma of unsafe hunting due to ice loss, risking their lives to get in contact with sea animals.

Besides the visible effects on people's livelihoods, global warming is predicted to have a strong and adverse impact on human health. The populations of countries that have contributed the least to global warming are the most vulnerable to death and diseases brought about by higher temperatures. The coastlines along the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean and in sub-Saharan Africa will be at higher risk of enduring the health effects of climate change.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that climate change is responsible for at least 150,000 deaths per year, a number that is expected to double by 2030. The effects of global warming will cause dire health consequences:

Infectious diseases. IPCC predicts that global warming will worsen human health conditions, especially in tropical regions. In places like Africa, an increase in temperature signifies an increase in mosquito populations, thus escalating the risk of malaria, dengue and other insect-borne infections. Other regions are also affected. The United States experienced varying levels of malaria outbreaks; in 2006, the United Kingdom was plagued by an outbreak of legionnaires' diseases -- a bacterial lung infection that scientists attribute to global warming. WHO states that global warming will also cause a major increase in insect-borne diseases in Europe. Countries like Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Turkey might already be in the danger zone for mosquito-borne malaria. However, the ability to tolerate temperature changes differs from region to region. Richer societies can utilize technological advances; for example, the use of more powerful air conditioners and the construction of houses minimize heat retention. On the other hand, developing countries lack not only the technological know-how, but also the resources and public health systems, required to prevent such outbreaks.

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Heatwaves. Prolonged periods of abnormally high temperatures can have serious health effects on vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and the sick. This was already seen during the 2003 heatwave in Europe, which claimed approximately 35,000 lives. In a study by Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research in the United Kingdom, scientists using computer models showed how greenhouse gas emissions have increased the likelihood of heatwaves. The most common health effect is hyperthermia or heatstroke that can be fatal if left untreated. IPCC predicts that global warming will lead to hot days, followed by nights of high temperatures.

Loss of agricultural productivity. Global warming can result in droughts that can worsen living conditions, particularly in Africa. The World Wild Fund has reported that climate change can drastically alter rainfall pattern, and risk water and food supplies for millions. The IPCC report estimates that approximately 75 million to 250 million people in Africa will be without adequate water and will face food shortages by 2020, as crop productivity will decline by about 50 per cent. Rising temperatures could also result in food shortages for 130 million people in Asia.

Asthma and other respiratory diseases. People suffering from heart problems are more vulnerable to increased temperatures, especially those living in already warm areas, as their cardiovascular system must work harder to keep their body cool. Hot temperatures increase the ozone concentration, which can damage people's lung tissue and cause complications for asthma patients and those with lung diseases.
Increased global warming can also pose a threat to national security, affecting food security, which, in turn, can lead to resource conflicts. At the UN Security Council debate on energy, security and climate, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett introduced global warming as a security risk. Despite opposition from many Council members, such as the Russian Federation and China, she argued that the loss of basic needs due to climate change in poor countries can increase the risk of conflicts. Similarly, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has labelled climate change as "an act of aggression by the rich against the poor".

On a positive note, many countries have now realized the grave consequences of global warming. The United States Supreme Court ordered the Federal Government to look into regulating CO2 emissions. Protest participants in many American cities like Boston and New York have urged the Government to reduce emissions up to 80 per cent by 2050; some 1,300 protest events have been organized in the United States under the Step It Up 2007 banner. In Sydney, Australia, businesses and homeowners switched off their lights to acknowledge the critical issue of global warming. Likewise, corporations are realizing the need to become environmentally friendly. PepsiCo, a global beverage and snack company, plans to purchase 1 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy over the next year. However, the major impact on reducing the effects of global warming cannot be made without the commitment of those countries that account for the greatest production of greenhouse gases.

The UN Chronicle is not an official record. It is privileged to host senior United Nations officials as well as distinguished contributors from outside the United Nations system whose views are not necessarily those of the United Nations. Similarly, the boundaries and names shown, and the designations used, in maps or articles do not necessarily imply endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations.

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FAQs

How developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate change? ›

Developing nations seems to be more vulnerable to climate change due to their economy relying more heavily on climate-reliant activities in particular farming (Fankhauser et al. 2000).

Who is vulnerable to global warming? ›

These climate-sensitive health risks are disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, including women, children, ethnic minorities, poor communities, migrants or displaced persons, older populations, and those with underlying health conditions.

What are the health effects of global warming? ›

The health effects of these disruptions include increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease, injuries and premature deaths related to extreme weather events, changes in the prevalence and geographical distribution of food- and water-borne illnesses and other infectious diseases, and threats to mental health.

Why are poorer countries more vulnerable to climate change? ›

They are more vulnerable because of their high dependence on natural resources, and their limited capacity to cope with climate variability and extremes. Experience suggests that the best way to address climate change impacts on the poor is by integrating adaptation responses into development planning.

Why are developing countries more vulnerable to disasters? ›

Developing countries are more vulnerable to natural disasters because people live in areas at high risk from natural disasters (e.g., unsafe urban areas), the housing is poorly built and can be easily damaged in the event of a disaster, countries are not equipped with early warning systems, and they have few assets and ...

Why is climate change a problem in developing countries? ›

Climate change aggravates the effects of population growth, poverty, and rapid urbanisation. Without serious adaptation, climate change is likely to push millions further into poverty and limit the opportunities for sustainable development and for people to escape from poverty.

How does climate change make people vulnerable? ›

Populations Vulnerable to Climate Change

Some people are more exposed to climate-related health impacts, such as extreme heat, flooding from extreme weather events, and tickborne diseases.

How many people are vulnerable to the effects of climate change? ›

The latest report on climate change from the United Nations noted that at least 3.3 billion people's daily lives are “highly vulnerable” to climate change, and people are 15 times more likely to die from extreme weather than in years past, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report said.

How can we protect vulnerable ecosystems? ›

Increase knowledge and information on impacts and responses of fish, wildlife, and plants to a changing climate. Increase awareness and motivate action to safeguard fish, wildlife, and plants in a changing climate. Reduce non-climate stressors to help fish, wildlife, plants, and ecosystems adapt to a changing climate.

Why are developing countries more vulnerable to drought than developed countries? ›

Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to drought because of their geography and strong dependence on subsistence agriculture. The highly diversified economies of developed countries mitigate its effects, but do not eliminate human stress and major economic loss.

How do climate change and global warming severely affect the poor particularly in developing nations? ›

Climate change threatens the cleanliness of our air, depletes our water sources and limits food supply. It disrupts livelihoods, forces families from their homes and pushes people into poverty.

What are the most vulnerable sectors impacted by climate change? ›

The most vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, children, low-income communities and communities of color, will be most affected by these health impacts.

What are the effects of health issues? ›

Having multiple health conditions can affect people's ability to work and limit what they can do in their social lives. Things like pain, low mood, mobility, finance problems, fatigue, etc.

What are effects of global warming essay? ›

The Effect of Global Warming

It includes melting of polar ice caps, leading to an increase in sea level drowning coastlines and slowly submerging continents. Recent studies by National Snow and Ice Datacenter “if the ice melted today the seas would rise about 230 feet”.

What is global warming explain its causes and effects? ›

Global warming is the phenomenon of gradual increase in the average temperature of earth . It is caused by the release of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, CFCs etc. into the atmosphere.

Who are the most vulnerable to disaster? ›

One measure of the strength of a community's response and recovery system is its attentiveness to its most vulnerable citizens–children, the frail elderly, the disabled, and the impoverished and disenfranchised. It is a cruel fact: disasters discriminate.

What countries are most vulnerable to natural disasters? ›

Rankings by country
RankCountry2016
1Qatar0.08%
2Malta0.60%
3Saudi Arabia1.14%
4Barbados1.32%
73 more rows

What are the causes of vulnerability? ›

  • Underlying causes. Poverty.
  • Dynamic pressures. Lack of.
  • Unsafe conditions. Fragile physical environment.
  • Trigger event. Earthquake.

How can developing countries prevent climate change? ›

What are common adaptation priorities?
  1. Agriculture under pressure. Every single one of the countries surveyed identified the agricultural sector as a priority. ...
  2. Protecting freshwater supplies. ...
  3. Climate impacts on health. ...
  4. Risks posed to the energy sector. ...
  5. Fisheries and local livelihoods. ...
  6. Reducing risks from extreme weather.

What can we do in the developing world to slow climate change? ›

We can replace high-emitting fuels like coal, oil and gas with nearly “carbon-free” alternatives, such as solar power, wind power, or nuclear power. We can capture the CO2 from fossil fuel power and manufacturing plants and store it underground.

What are the factors that affect climate change and what can you do to help lessen the damage? ›

Ways to reduce your impact on climate change in 2021
  • Know your carbon footprint. ...
  • Travel less. ...
  • Eat less meat and focus on sustainably grown meat. ...
  • Create less waste. ...
  • Small changes start at home. ...
  • Recycle more and create less trash. ...
  • Buy less.
4 Jan 2021

What are some suggested solutions to climate change? ›

What are the solutions to climate change?
  • Keep fossil fuels in the ground. ...
  • Invest in renewable energy. ...
  • Switch to sustainable transport. ...
  • Help us keep our homes cosy. ...
  • Improve farming and encourage vegan diets. ...
  • Restore nature to absorb more carbon. ...
  • Protect forests like the Amazon. ...
  • Protect the oceans.

What populations have been most affected by environmental health issues? ›

Environmental risks take their greatest toll on young children and older people, the report finds, with children under 5 and adults aged 50 to 75 years most impacted. Yearly, the deaths of 1.7 million children under 5 and 4.9 million adults aged 50 to 75 could be prevented through better environmental management.

What are the vulnerable populations? ›

Vulnerable populations include patients who are racial or ethnic minorities, children, elderly, socioeconomically disadvantaged, underinsured or those with certain medical conditions. Members of vulnerable populations often have health conditions that are exacerbated by unnecessarily inadequate healthcare.

How does global warming affect human and environment? ›

Global warming can result in many serious alterations to the environment, eventually impacting human health. It can also cause a rise in sea level, leading to the loss of coastal land, a change in precipitation patterns, increased risks of droughts and floods, and threats to biodiversity.

What are the 5 effects of global warming? ›

Effects of Climate Change
  • Hotter temperatures. As greenhouse gas concentrations rise, so does the global surface temperature. ...
  • More severe storms. ...
  • Increased drought. ...
  • A warming, rising ocean. ...
  • Loss of species. ...
  • Not enough food. ...
  • More health risks. ...
  • Poverty and displacement.

How does climate change affect human and environment? ›

The impacts of climate change on different sectors of society are interrelated. Drought can harm food production and human health. Flooding can lead to disease spread and damages to ecosystems and infrastructure. Human health issues can increase mortality, impact food availability, and limit worker productivity.

How can you protect conserve and restore the environment? ›

Ten Simple Things You Can Do to Help Protect the Earth
  1. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Cut down on what you throw away. ...
  2. Volunteer. Volunteer for cleanups in your community. ...
  3. Educate. ...
  4. Conserve water. ...
  5. Choose sustainable. ...
  6. Shop wisely. ...
  7. Use long-lasting light bulbs. ...
  8. Plant a tree.
11 Aug 2021

Why do we need to protect and save ecosystems? ›

Healthy ecosystems clean our water, purify our air, maintain our soil, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients and provide us with food. They provide raw materials and resources for medicines and other purposes. They are at the foundation of all civilisation and sustain our economies.

What suggestions can you give to make our ecosystem child friendly? ›

  • Spend time outside in nature. Probably the best way to start your child on the eco-conscious journey is to show them the love of the outdoors. ...
  • Recycling. ...
  • Conserve water and food. ...
  • Encourage children to use environmentally friendly means of transport. ...
  • Love of animals. ...
  • Gardening. ...
  • Tree planting. ...
  • DIY projects.

What is the relationship between climate change and developing countries? ›

Developing countries have lower emissions, but are still bearing the brunt of a hotter climate through more severe heat waves, floods and droughts.

How do developing countries affect the environment? ›

The countries opt for the goals of economic growth and development as well as cheap energy for all to develop and improve the standards of living of their citizens. This may lead to environmental degradation and pollution.

What countries are affected the most by climate change? ›

The Germanwatch institute presented the results of the Global Climate Risk Index 2020 during COP25 in Madrid. According to this analysis, based on the impacts of extreme weather events and the socio-economic losses they cause, Japan, the Philippines and Germany are the most affected places by climate change today.

How do climate change and global warming severely affect the poor particularly in developing nations? ›

Climate change threatens the cleanliness of our air, depletes our water sources and limits food supply. It disrupts livelihoods, forces families from their homes and pushes people into poverty.

How can we improve health care in developing countries? ›

Strategies for Improving Health in Developing Countries
  1. Long term economic growth.
  2. Biomedical Intervention.
  3. Improving water sources and sanitation.
  4. Better diets.
  5. Improving women's rights and maternal health.
  6. Political solutions.
  7. Providing cheaper drugs.
  8. Controlling Corporations.
22 Feb 2021

Who is responsible for global warming developed or developing countries? ›

For more than a century, the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, in total as well as per capita, have been the big developed nations, most notably the United States and the countries of Europe, which grew their economies by burning fossil fuels and spewing carbon from their factories, homes and cars.

How can developing countries prevent climate change? ›

What are common adaptation priorities?
  1. Agriculture under pressure. Every single one of the countries surveyed identified the agricultural sector as a priority. ...
  2. Protecting freshwater supplies. ...
  3. Climate impacts on health. ...
  4. Risks posed to the energy sector. ...
  5. Fisheries and local livelihoods. ...
  6. Reducing risks from extreme weather.

Why is global warming a problem? ›

Global warming can result in many serious alterations to the environment, eventually impacting human health. It can also cause a rise in sea level, leading to the loss of coastal land, a change in precipitation patterns, increased risks of droughts and floods, and threats to biodiversity.

What is an example of a developing country? ›

An example of a developing nation is Thailand. In recent years, Thailand's GDP has increased substantially and the country has moved from a lower income to an upper income country.

What are the 5 effects of global warming? ›

Effects of Climate Change
  • Hotter temperatures. As greenhouse gas concentrations rise, so does the global surface temperature. ...
  • More severe storms. ...
  • Increased drought. ...
  • A warming, rising ocean. ...
  • Loss of species. ...
  • Not enough food. ...
  • More health risks. ...
  • Poverty and displacement.

How can people reduce the risks of climate change and what are the benefits of taking action now? ›

  • Make your voice heard by those in power. ...
  • Eat less meat and dairy. ...
  • Cut back on flying. ...
  • Leave the car at home. ...
  • Reduce your energy use, and bills. ...
  • Respect and protect green spaces. ...
  • Invest your money responsibly. ...
  • Cut consumption – and waste.

Which country is most responsible for global warming? ›

  1. The United States. The U.S. is the largest emitter of CO2, with approximately 416,738 metric tons of total carbon dioxide emissions by 2020. ...
  2. China. China is the second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide gas in the world, with 235,527 metric tons by 2020. ...
  3. The Russian Federation. ...
  4. Germany. ...
  5. The United Kingdom.

When did global warming start? ›

The instrumental temperature record shows the signal of rising temperatures emerged in the tropical ocean in about the 1950s. Today's study uses the extra information captured in the proxy record to trace the start of the warming back a full 120 years, to the 1830s.

How can we help the poor and vulnerable? ›

10 Ways to Help the World's Poor
  1. Donate. One of the quickest and most obvious ways to help the world's poor is to donate to charity. ...
  2. Call Congress. This way to help the world's poor is surprisingly simple. ...
  3. Inform Yourself. ...
  4. Build Buzz/Raise Awareness. ...
  5. Social Media. ...
  6. Get Political. ...
  7. Fundraising. ...
  8. Be a Consumer with a Cause.
12 Feb 2016

Why are developing countries more vulnerable to drought than developed countries? ›

Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to drought because of their geography and strong dependence on subsistence agriculture. The highly diversified economies of developed countries mitigate its effects, but do not eliminate human stress and major economic loss.

How can sustainable development be achieved for all while addressing global climate change? ›

Options for countries all over the world include a mix of technology development that lowers air pollution; increasing investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, expanding urban public transport; improving waste and water management; and better planning for when disasters strike.

Videos

1. Global launch of Human Development Report 2021/22
(United Nations Development Programme (UNDP))
2. Know How: UNHCR expert on climate change and forced displacement
(UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency)
3. Who Is Responsible For Climate Change? – Who Needs To Fix It?
(Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell)
4. The Sustainable Development Goals Explained: Clean Water and Sanitation
(United Nations)
5. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021
(Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
6. A wasted opportunity: open burning of waste causes a climate and health calamity
(UN Climate Change - Events)

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