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Environmental Health Impacts of Global Climate Change


Environmental Health Impacts of Global Climate Change Crispin Pierce, Ph.D. piercech_at_uwec.edu Environmental Public Health Program Outline Global Human Environmental ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Environmental Health Impacts of Global Climate Change

Environmental Health Impacts of Global Climate
  • Crispin Pierce, Ph.D.
  • piercech_at_uwec.edu
  • Environmental Public Health Program

  • Global Human Environmental Threats
  • Experiment Challenge
  • Direct Human Effects
  • Heat deaths
  • Adverse weather events
  • Costs of extreme weather events
  • Relationship Between Climate Change and Other
    Environmental Issues

  • Associated Climate Changes and Surprises
  • Flooding of Low-Lying Areas
  • Spread of Waterborne Diseases
  • Climate Change and Food Production
  • Effects on Plant and Animal Communities
  • Phenology
  • Greening of the North
  • Coral Bleaching
  • Species Extinction
  • Benefits of Stabilizing CO2 Concentrations

Global Human Environmental Threats
  • Overpopulation
  • Global Climate Change
  • Loss of Biodiversity

Experimental Challenge
  • A reporter for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram
    contacts you for information on an article
    concerning global warming. She asks you the
    question, If air and sea temperatures rise, will
    the melting of icebergs lead to sea level
    increases? What is your response.
  • Use the materials in front of you (ice cubes, a
    graduated cylinder, and a water faucet), how
    would you test your answer?

Direct Human Effects
  • Hotter, Drier Summers and Warmer, Wetter Winters
  • Increased Adverse Weather Events
  • Property and Crop Losses

Quick Quiz
  • About how many people in Europe died during the
    heat wave of 2003?
  • 350
  • 3,500
  • 35,000
  • Heat is the primary cause of weather-related

Adverse Weather Events
  • Increased Sea Surface Temperatures and Greater
    Hurricane Intensity (Science 16 September
    2005Vol. 309. no. 5742, pp. 1844 - 1846)
  • Net Hurricane Power Dissipation Highly Correlated
    with Tropical Sea Surface Temperature (Nature
    advance online publication published online 31
    July 2005 doi 10.1038/nature03906)

Costs of Extreme Weather Events
Relationship Between Climate Change and Other
Environmental Issues
  • The complex effects of warming of our atmosphere,
    water, and soil are very difficult to measure and
  • Accumulation of evidence from many fields, such
    as chemistry, biology, geology, and environmental
    health is essential.
  • The accumulated evidence provides a clearer and
    clearer picture of whats going on.

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Associated Climate Changes
  • Global sea-level has increased 1-2 mm/yr in 100
    years a rise in sea level between 3.5 and 34.6
    in. (9-88 cm) is expected
  • Duration of ice cover of rivers and lakes
    decreased by 2 weeks in N. Hemisphere
  • Arctic ice has thinned substantially, decreased
    in extent by 10-15

  • Reduced permafrost in polar, sub-polar,
    mountainous regions
  • Growing season lengthened by 1-4 days in N.
  • Retreat of continental glaciers on all continents
  • Snow cover decreased by 10 (reduced solar

Source Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, 2001 Report
Since 1979, the size of the summer polar ice cap
has shrunk more than 20 percent. (Illustration
from NASA) (http//www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/qth
Climate Surprises
  • Slowing of the ocean thermohaline circulation

  • Breakoff of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Flooding of Low-Lying Coastal Areas
Source U.S. National Assessment, 2000.
Kennedy Space Center
Impact of a 1-m rise in sea level on low-lying
Areas subjected to Inundation with a 1 m (3 ft)
rise in sea level
Source Corell, R. W., 2004 Impacts of a
warming Arctic. Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
(www.acia.uaf.edu) Cambridge University Press
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Who Will be First Affected?
  • AOSIS is a coalition of small island and
    low-lying coastal countries, including Africa,
    Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Pacific,
    South China Sea
  • These countries share risk factors for
    warming-induced disasters
  • Small physical size
  • Surrounded by large expanses of ocean
  • Relative isolation
  • Limited natural resources
  • Growing populations
  • Exposure to damaging natural disasters
  • Low economic diversification
  • Limited funds, human resources, skills

  • Rising sea levels will cause
  • Displacement of coastal communities
  • Disturbance of agricultural activity
  • Coastal erosion, beach loss, decline in tourism
  • Intrusion of sea water into freshwater aquifers

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  • Other risks faced by AOSIS
  • More frequent droughts and floods
  • Water supply contamination
  • The experience of AOSIS countries is a microcosm
    of the global picture

Spread of Waterborne Diseases
  • Malaria
  • Dengue Fever
  • Cholera
  • Typhoid fever
  • Hantavirus
  • Diptheria
  • Lyme Disease
  • Evidence the Caribbean region has experienced a
    marked increase in the incidence of dengue and
    dengue hemorrhagic fever in the past decade
    (Caribbean Epidemiology Centre - CAREC).

Climate Change and Food
  • The growth of crops depends on many factors,
    including temperature, precipitation, soil
    fertility, and surrounding land uses.
  • Extreme weather events (drought, hurricanes,
    floods, etc.) are very damaging to crops. The
    effects of more gradual affects (e.g., average
    temperature increase) are difficult to predict.
  • Developing countries will be much harder hit than
    developed countries, due to limited agricultural

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Effects on Plant and Animal Communities
  • The effects are difficult to measure, but
    potentially dramatic.
  • Many species inhabit precisely bounded ecological
    niches, and so small changes in climate can cause
    disruptions in habitat or food availability.
  • In the past, mobile animals could respond to
    these pressures by moving from one place to
    another. Land development, however, has
    constrained and fragmented ranges and travel
    routes, making migration much more difficult.
  • Loss of key predator or prey species affects the
    life cycles of other organisms in the food

Phenology (Timing of Natural Events)
  • Evidence of earlier leafing and flowering.

Greening of the North
  • More vegetative growth in the last 20 years.
  • Many scientists predict greater desertification.

Ranga B. Myneni, Department of Geography, Boston
Coral Bleaching
  • Increased sea temperatures
  • Increased CO2 concentrations

Species Extinction
  • Extinction of the golden toad
  • Over the past 30 years, the dry season in the
    Costa Ricas cloud forest has become warmer and
  • 20 out of 50 species of frogs and toads have
    disappeared from a 30-square-kilometer study area
  • Toucans and other bird species have shifted their
    range to higher altitudes.
  • Frog extinction in the Central and South
    American tropics

Biological Shifts
  • Shifts in the ranges of 35 species of
    non-migratory butterflies.
  • Decline in body weight of polar bears, resulting
    from early melting of sea ice and lowered food
  • Changes in the abundance of winter songbirds in
    four Great Plains states
  • Shifts in Californias tidepools species
  • Reduction of phytoplankton growth in the Ross Sea
    that could disrupt the Antarctic food chain

Stabilizing CO2 Atmospheric Levels
  • Efficient Transportation
  • Energy Conservation
  • Sustainable Energy Sources
  • Sustainable Land Use
  • Population Stabilization

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  • Exploratorium.edu
  • Eugene S. Takle, Iowa State University
  • Joan L. Aron, Vulnerability Associated with
    Climate Variability and Climate Change in Central
    America and the Caribbean
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Extra Slides
  • Scientists predict that continued global warming
    on the order of 2.5-10.4F over the next 100
    years (as projected in the IPCC's Third
    Assessment Report) is likely to result in
  • severe stress on many forests, wetlands, alpine
    regions, and other natural ecosystems
  • greater threats to human health as mosquitoes and
    other disease-carrying insects and rodents spread
    diseases over larger geographical regions
  • disruption of agriculture in some parts of the
    world due to increased temperature, water stress,
    and sea-level rise in low-lying areas such as
    Bangladesh or the Mississippi River delta.
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