Health problems due to climate change

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Allergy sufferers and the elderly suffer from health problems caused by climate change

The effects of climate change and global warming are already being felt. In the future, allergy sufferers and older people in Germany in particular will suffer from the consequences, experts say. Those suffering from hay fever should therefore prepare for an extended pollen season. In addition, the rising temperatures would go hand in hand with significant warming of the interior of buildings, which could be a health hazard, especially for seniors.

Forerunners of climate change also lead to health problems in Germany Even in climatically temperate Germany, climate change can be seen from the increasing health problems of many people. Older people and allergy sufferers in particular suffer from the rising temperatures. "The growing heat load will lead to health problems, especially among older people," reports the Vice President of the German Weather Service (DWD), Paul Becker, at the agency's climate conference last Tuesday. Elevated temperatures could damage the organs. In addition, nighttime heat disturbs sleep. The DWD is currently developing a new early warning system for rising internal temperatures, which should start this summer. "Since the temperature increase will not only be limited to the outside area, the expansion of the heat warning system to the inside is essential to protect the population," explained Becker. Countries, municipalities, and old people's homes would be warned in this way and could take appropriate measures such as bringing vulnerable people into cooler rooms. For example, the DWD calculated for the Upper Rhine Graben that today about 15 percent of the mean nighttime indoor temperatures in the period from May to September would be above 25 degrees Celsius. "In the middle of the century, it will be 35 percent in average residential buildings there," said the Vice President of the DWD.

Becker also had bad news for people with pollen allergies. The pollen season will be extended in the future due to the rising temperatures. The expert insisted that global CO2 emissions be reduced, as this significantly fuels the greenhouse effect. "According to the estimates I know, global CO2 emissions rose to 32 gigatons in 2012, 3 percent more than in the previous year. However, there were considerable regional differences. After all, emissions in the EU fell by 2 percent, ”explained Becker.

Climate change leads to natural disasters Climate change will remain a central issue of our time. The effects can already be felt. Natural disasters such as devastating hurricanes, floods and floods are the first harbingers of increasing climate extremes and anomalies. How our climate will change in the future can only be roughly predicted. However, experts assume that developing countries in particular will feel the effects massively. The glaciers and polar ice caps will hurt, which will result in a rise in sea level. This changes the ocean currents, which also have a significant impact on the climate. In the worst case, the drying up of the warm Gulf Stream would cause the temperatures in Northern Europe to drop so much that a new ice age threatens. In addition, it is expected that the deserts will continue to expand and that millions of “climate refugees” from countries just a few centimeters above sea level will lose their homes.

Around 1.2 billion people currently do not have clean drinking water. If temperatures rose 2.5 degrees worldwide, a further 2.4 to 3.1 billion people would suffer from water shortages and be at risk of starvation. Tropical diseases such as malaria could spread drastically. Other infectious diseases would very likely also increase rapidly.

While the average warming has been around one degree Celsius in the past 100 years, a temperature increase of 1.5 to 3 degrees Celsius is expected by the year 2100, explained Becker. This also applies to Germany. “In these seemingly small increases, extreme fluctuations are embedded. Thousands of people can fall victim to them, ”warned the expert.

“There is no doubt about the existence of climate change caused by humans. Effects can already be seen, ”said the Vice President of the DWD. Although natural influences such as solar radiation and volcanic eruptions also contribute to climate change, they overlay man-made climate change. "We are firmly convinced that in the long term human influence will have the greatest effect and that there will be a further rise in temperature in the future." (Ag)

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