Earth, water, fire

And How to Stem the Rising Tide

Climate change is an undeniable reality impacting the planet and its inhabitants at an alarming rate. It refers to long-term shifts in weather patterns and temperatures resulting from human activities such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and industrial processes. While the consequences are far-reaching, one aspect that often goes unnoticed is its profound impact on human health(1). This article will explore the staggering toll this hazardous phenomenon is taking on human health and discuss potential strategies to mitigate its effects.


Climate change significantly threatens the well-being of individuals and communities worldwide. Its detrimental effects on human health are diverse and include direct and indirect consequences. The first step to effectively addressing this critical issue is understanding the underlying causes and mechanisms.

Factory emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere - affecting climate change
Image by Marcin from Pixabay

Understanding Climate Change

Before delving into the impact on human health, it is crucial to grasp the concept of climate change itself. We’re referring to long-term alterations in temperature, precipitation patterns, wind patterns, and other aspects of the Earth’s climate system. These changes are primarily driven by the increased emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, resulting in the greenhouse effect.

Causes of Climate Change

Human activities are the primary drivers of climate change. The burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, industrial processes, and agricultural practices release large amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), into the atmosphere. These gases trap heat from the sun, leading to a rise in global temperatures.

Impact on Human Health

The consequences of climate change on human health are multifaceted and pervasive. The toll is staggering, from extreme weather events to the spread of diseases. Let’s examine some of the key areas where climate change exerts its influence on human well-being.

Sun, baked earth, desert, heat rising, dark clouds
Image by G.C. from Pixabay

The Staggering Toll on Human Health: Rising Temperatures and Heatwaves

As global temperatures continue to rise, heatwaves become more frequent and intense. Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can result in heatstroke, dehydration, and cardiovascular problems. Vulnerable populations, such as those with pre-existing health conditions, face heightened risks.

Hurricane on the U.S. east coast
Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

Increased Frequency and Intensity of Extreme Weather Events

Climate change intensifies extreme weather events, including hurricanes, floods, droughts, and wildfires. These events can cause physical injuries, displacement, and even loss of life. Moreover, infrastructure and essential services disruption further exacerbate the health risks for affected communities.

Hurricanes, for instance, wreak havoc on coastlines worldwide. The image to the right, a hurricane covering the entire east coast north of Florida, puts these extreme weather events in perspective.

Air Pollution and Respiratory Issues

Climate change contributes to the deterioration of air quality, leading to increased respiratory issues such as asthma, allergies, and other respiratory infections. Elevated levels of air pollution, including particulate matter and ground-level ozone, pose a significant threat to human respiratory health, particularly in urban areas.

Mosquito biting a human – vector-borne disease increases due to climate change
Photo by Jimmy Chan

Spread of Vector-Borne Diseases

Warmer temperatures and altered rainfall patterns create favorable conditions for the spread of vector-borne diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and Lyme disease(2). Mosquitoes, ticks, and other disease-carrying vectors thrive in these changing environments, posing a significant risk to populations worldwide.

African American woman crying and sitting on the floor. Anxiety, depression
Photo by Alex Green

Mental Health Implications

We cannot afford to overlook the impact of climate change on mental health. Disasters, displacement, and the loss of livelihoods associated with climate change can lead to psychological distress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The long-term psychological effects on individuals and communities require attention and support.

Solar panels on the roof of a house. Climate Change Mitigation strategies
Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Steps to Mitigate the Impact of Climate Change on Human Health

Addressing the challenges posed by climate change requires collective action at all levels. Steps that can help mitigate the impact on human health include the following:

  • Transitioning to Renewable Energy Sources: Shifting away from fossil fuels and embracing renewable energy sources like solar and wind power can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This transition not only mitigates climate change but also improves air quality, thereby benefiting human health.
  • Promoting Sustainable Transportation: Encouraging public transportation, cycling, and walking can reduce the reliance on fossil fuel-powered vehicles. These transportation choices reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and promote physical activity, improving overall health.
  • Improving Air Quality: Implementing policies to mitigate air pollution, such as implementing stricter industry emission standards and promoting cleaner technologies, can positively impact human health. We can minimize respiratory issues and related health problems by reducing air pollutants.
  • Enhancing Resilience in Healthcare Systems: Preparing healthcare systems to cope with the challenges posed by climate change is vital. These preparations should include strengthening infrastructure, improving disaster response capabilities, and ensuring access to healthcare services during extreme weather events.
  • Raising Awareness and Advocacy: Educating individuals, communities, and policymakers about the impact of climate change on human health is essential. By raising awareness, we can foster a sense of urgency and promote policies and actions that prioritize the well-being of both people and the planet.
  • Supporting Organizations that Produce Sustainable, Green Products: Volunteer, donate, invest, and buy products from organizations dedicated to addressing planet health regarding climate change, landfill waste, soil health, and clean water and air. Check out one such organization where I live in Hawaii! Click the Yummet logo below:
Yummet logo
Trees and windmill – wind energy to combat climate change
Image by 政徳 吉田 from Pixabay

Climate change poses a staggering toll on human health, with wide-ranging consequences for individuals and communities worldwide. Rising temperatures, extreme weather events, air pollution, the spread of diseases, and mental health implications are among the critical challenges we face. However, we can create a healthier and more sustainable future by taking proactive steps to mitigate climate change and prioritize human well-being.


Deforestation, a leading cause of climate change – bare ground, felled trees
Image by Picography from Pixabay

What is the leading cause of climate change?

The leading cause is human activity, primarily burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and industrial processes that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere(3).

How does climate change affect human health?

Climate change affects human health through various means, including extreme weather events, rising temperatures, air pollution, the spread of diseases, and mental health implications.

Electric vehicle in Amsterdam - Combatting Climate Change
Image by (1) from Pixabay

What can individuals do to reduce the impact of climate change on health?

Individuals can contribute to reducing the impact of climate change on health by adopting sustainable practices, such as conserving energy, using public transportation, supporting renewable energy sources, and advocating for climate-friendly policies.

Are there any policies in place to address climate change and health?

Many countries and organizations have implemented policies to address climate change and its impact on health. These policies focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, strengthening healthcare systems, and raising awareness about its link to health.

Go Green – Green Earth – Advocate for Climate Change Policies
Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay

How can I get involved in climate change advocacy?

You can get involved in advocacy by joining local or global organizations dedicated to environmental issues, participating in community initiatives, supporting sustainable practices, and engaging with policymakers to promote climate-friendly policies.


Climate change poses a staggering toll on human health, with wide-ranging consequences for individuals and communities worldwide. Rising temperatures, extreme weather events, air pollution, the spread of diseases, and mental health implications are among the critical challenges we face. However, we can create a healthier and more sustainable future by taking proactive steps to mitigate climate change and prioritize human well-being.

Works Cited

1.         The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jun 17]. Available from:

2.         Rocklöv J, Dubrow R. Climate change: an enduring challenge for vector-borne disease prevention and control. Nat Immunol. 2020 May 1;21(5):479–83.

3.         Causes and Effects of Climate Change | United Nations [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jun 17]. Available from:


The medical information in this article, on our website and all our social media sites, is provided as an information resource and is not to be used or relied on for diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your healthcare provider before making wellness decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. 

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