Climate change is reawakening germs that have been dormant for years. As nurses, we may not need to take Microbiology again, but we should be cognizant of how the environment affects us and impacts the patient population we see daily.
According to the BBC, soil is melting allowing bacteria and viruses to reemerge, such as anthrax. This is happening due to frozen permafrost soil thawing and then being melted due to climate change. In the Arctic Circle, in a far-off area called the Yamal Peninsula, death has already occurred due to anthrax. A 12-year-old boy perished, and 20 individuals were hospitalized due to this devastating illness.
Another area of concern is "heat death". In the jungle, the humidity is over 90 percent. Once humans start walking around, the temperature rises to 105 degrees. This can cause death to the individual. These temperatures may not be compatible with life. Food cannot exist in this extreme heat. Less food is produced in extreme temperatures. The United Nations put out a recent warning about current famine in parts of the world like Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen. Global warming will be responsible for a 50 percent drop in crop availability by the end of this century. A solution that has been proposed, to move the products to other parts of the world doesn't work because of poor soil quality.
The Brain and Autism
Currently, the amount of carbon dioxide is 400 parts per million. By the year 2100, it will be at 1000 parts per million. Sure, we may not be around to witness this, but surely, the residents of Planet Earth will be here. Impaired brain function will result, up to 21 percent. In addition, our projected time on earth will decline. This is due to ozone which impacts our lifespan. Even before the end of the century, by 2090, the air will be dangerous to breathe. Autism is now on the rise and guess what? Increased ozone in the atmosphere has been implicated in autism. Air pollution due to smog is another problem due to climate change. In China in 2013, there was an "air-pocalypse". 33 percent of the deaths in China were attributed to this problem that year.
The Grapes of Wrath Part 2?
Most of us read The Grapes of Wrath in high school or college. Do we want to go through this scenario again? In a few short years, by 2080, Europe will be in the middle of a drought. This will happen due to an increase in greenhouse gas which is taking over the atmosphere in this part of the world. Not just Europe will be affected. NASA also projected in 2015 that a significant drought will hit the American plains and will rival any drought that has occurred in a thousand years. The Middle East, which for this projection includes Iraq and Syria, as well as sections of South America, Australia and Africa will also suffer from horrific drought conditions.
Flooding and Business
In Miami Beach, there has already been flooding which has affected retail business sales. Well, this city is not alone. Global warming will have an impact on the sea level. It will cause it to rise. This will directly cause flooding. This is significant since one-third of this country's cities are coastal. The devastation will continue and have a direct effect on related businesses. This will include energy plants, such as your local electric company. In addition, food sources such as fisheries, and farms that produce rice will be impacted. Seaports that bring consumer products, which could also be electronics, will be affected. Navy shipyards and bases where our military lives and works will also feel this flooding. By the end of the current century, there will be a 4-foot to 10-foot rise in sea level. This statement alone is enough to cause anxiety since currently upwards of 600 million people reside within 10 feet of sea level.
The End of Planet Earth?
The worst-case scenario from climate change concerns "ocean acidification". This is related to the ocean picking up the carbon dioxide from the sky. Coral reefs are dying already due to this process. This is cause for alarm since coral reefs are the source of food for 500 billion individuals worldwide. Toxic gases are expelled into the atmosphere. The result is destruction of the earth as we know it today.
Next Patient: Planet Earth
The acuity of patients we see every day in the ER, the ICUs and the floors can all be traced back to how the planet is decomposing due to climate change. There is a cause and effect to all these scenarios and we are starting to experience all the fallout now.
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Published August 2018. Accessed August 15, 2018.