How climate change affects our health

  • 2023-08-22
  • Guest article by alumnus Erick Agure
  • Comments
SDG Ziel 13: Maßnahmen zum Klimaschutz
SDG Ziel 3: Gesundheit und Wohlergehen
African woman paddles through flooded village in small boat
© GettyImages/peeterv

Climate change is becoming a reality in our daily lives. It is threatening the health of people all over the world. It is thus important to explore what we can do to reverse the trend. 


that is increasingly becoming a reality in our daily lives. Effects are multifaceted and are felt in different dimensions of human life. In some parts of the world, particularly the Global South, people are already living the realities of the impacts of climate change and making life increasingly difficult for them. People who live in the northern hemisphere also feel the effects. Many European countries are already experiencing droughts, but also heavy rains and floods. In Germany, too, temperatures are rising and the number of natural disasters is increasing. It is thus important to explore how the changes in climate affect human health -


Due to increasing global temperatures, there has been increased species migration leading to more human-animal contact. Climate-prompted migration of all kinds of species such as insects, people and other mammals causes serious problems. There is a spillover of pathogens from animals species to humans and thus becoming major pandemic threats. For example, rats that evade floods and increasing heatwaves in the forests spread diseases in human homes. Also, as the animals’ natural habitats disappear, wildlife carrying the rabies virus are expanding into newer areas hence increasing the risk of diseases in those areas.

More water-borne diseases

through interruption of the sewerage system, contaminating clean sources of water and carrying diseases and disease-pathogens from one area to another. All these increase the risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid and more. Ingesting or eating pathogen infested food also heightens the risk of diarrhea, vomiting and other hygiene-related complications. Moreover, the floods provide more waters and increased breeding grounds for pathogens and other disease-causing micro-organisms. 

As the globe becomes warmer, disease-carrying organisms such as mosquitoes become more and more prevalent. Mosquitoes cause malaria and it is estimated to cause approximately one million deaths annually. Increasing temperatures shifts the epidemiology of such diseases and the pathogens are finding more favorable conditions around the world. Meanwhile, biting insects which transmit infectious diseases including dengue fever, chikungunya and West Nile virus occur in the Global North. The warmer temperatures have also made it possible for disease-causing fungi to spread and survive in areas that were previously too cold for them. For example, Valley Fever that is caused by fungi predominantly found in soil in hot and dry areas has already spread into the Pacific Northwest. The fungi cause severe infections and even death.


Erratic rain patterns affect agriculture

Due to climate change, agriculture has become unpredictable in most countries of the Global South. Reduced agricultural yields not only elevates the risk of undernutrition. Scientific evidence also suggests that there is increased reduction in the quality of agricultural produce particularly field crops such as cereals and legumes. Additionally, there are climate sensitive nutrients found in plants such as zinc, calcium and plant-based proteins. These essential elements are lost due to increased temperatures and thus people who habitually consume these crops run the risk of undernutrition in the long-term especially in children.  

Changes in climatic conditions elevates the risk of suffering mental health, too. Since the 2000s, more people are forced to move due to weather-related events. The forced migrations greatly impact on people’s mental health and well-being leading to trauma and loss. The prolonged droughts and flooding have been found to increase the risk of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Air pollution associated with climate change increases the risk and burden of respiratory diseases. The costs associated with the care for people suffering respiratory or cardiovascular diseases is very high hence becoming unsustainable for households.

What we can do to reverse the trend

In conclusion, climate change impacts different facets of human life. The dimensions of the impacts are interlinked but the intersectionality of them all is human health. Stakeholders should put more emphasis on mitigation measures, building resilience (coping mechanisms) and increase their adaptation capacities to reverse the trend. As outlined in the Paris Agreement, the three action areas are 1) Finance: Industrialized countries should take a leading role in providing financial assistance to countries that are less endowed and vulnerable.  2) Technology: There is a need for fast technological advancement and sharing to increase resilience to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and 3) Capacity Building: The Paris Agreement places great emphasis on climate-related capacity building for countries in greater need and implores industrialized countries to support capacity building initiatives and actions in other countries. In doing so, we will live up to a healthier, safer and fairer world for everyone. 


Climate Change
The Paris Climate Agreement


  • Ms Fagamou SY


    The worldwide is entirely living bad conditions r÷lated to climate change effects. Big forests fires, heavy deadly floods and other serious impacts can be notified in many areas of the World. Even the northen part (developed one) is affected. In Senegal (West Africa), we are facing heavy rains with floods forcing populations to leave their destroyed homes and to migrate towards secure sites.This situation is creating many social and economic and even political problems. Sustainable solutions should be found worldwide lto erase the climate change phenomenon.

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