How does climate change impact our health?
Climate change can impact human health directly and indirectly:
Direct effects occur regularly due to climate-related extreme weather: For example, floods, heat waves, and storms can lead to ailments such as infections, injuries, or even death. Extreme weather events of this nature often also lead to increased stress levels in humans. In severe cases, this psychological strain can be partly responsible for the development of mental disorders.
Indirect effects on human health arise from the lasting changes in environmental conditions caused by climate change: Compromised drinking-water quality, for example, can have a variety of effects on humans and the environment—animal carriers of disease increase, while biological allergens can change in unfavorable ways and cause allergies. One particular phenomenon is thunderstorm asthma, which may become more common due to climate change. Climate change also interferes with the quality and quantity of food, often as a result of diminished agricultural yields—which, in turn, increases the risk of illness and disease in humans. Further indirect health effects arise when climate-induced habitat destruction leads to (distribution) conflicts among people. Last, but not least, extreme weather events, such as floods and heat waves, also result in economic losses, which can be accompanied by poverty and a corresponding range of health issues.