Global change is the terrestrial-scale transformation in the earth structure. Associated aspects of global change include environmental pollution with poisonous substances that harm the aquatic environment. Rapid global change has caught the attention of international agencies, media, humanitarians and several governments.
These parties, through education, public health actions and public policies, have come up with ways of regulating the negative impacts of global warming.
One way in which they have achieved this is by regulating industrial products and enlightening people on the need of controlling the number of children they give birth to, since the rate of universal revolution is enhanced by population increase which cannot go on for ever in the limited biosphere.
This paper addresses some of the causes and impacts of global change, such as the stratospheric ozone depletion and greenhouse gases. Several recommendations and actions that have been taken by different parties are also included in this paper.
Global change can be defined as the terrestrial -scale transformations in the earth structure. The structure is made up of the ambiance, land, life, oceans and other normal sequences. Global change impacts human health and nature to a large extent.
Components of Global Change
Global change is a multifaceted practice since various interrelated factors can be considered as either causes or effects. There is however a disagreement about a number of aspects; mostly those that have fiscal and political repercussions.
From the late 1970s, concentration has been centered on stratospheric ozone diminution, which has resulted to augmented ultraviolet radiation (UV) of the ecosystems and on accretion of greenhouse gases, which several authorities consider to be stirring up global warming (Schneider, 1989).
Associated aspects of global change include environmental pollution with poisonous substances and pesticides which harm aquatic environment, agriculture, vegetation and construction materials as a result of acidic deposition. Similar to global warming and ozone diminution, these aspects are allied with industrial growth and energy utilization, particularly fossil fuel combustion and release of noxious wastes.
More aspects of global change include: exhausted supplies of arable soil; clean water; exhaustible and non-exhaustible resources; and species annihilation that decreases biodiversity (Wilson, 1989). These aspects are mainly caused by mounting population pressure and augmented migration.
The Stratospheric Ozone Depletion
Ultraviolet radiation can be divided into UV-A, UV-B and UV-C, depending on wavelength of the radiations (McElroy & Salawitch, 1989). The most hazardous of the three is UV-C, which is prohibited from getting into the earth by the stratospheric ozone (Farman et al., 1985).
The stratospheric ozone layer is usually delicate. Some of the compounds that obliterate the ozone are: chlorine monoxide, which started to accrue in air following the growth and extensive utilization of refrigerants; and explosive solvents that have chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) (Homer-Dixon, 1991).
CFCs are typically lighter-than-air substances which are stable. However, they disintegrate to liberate chlorine monoxide when left uncovered from UV radiation. A study by Solomon (1990) reveals that CFCs will break the ozone layer in future, leading to severe biological and human health effects.
Biological Effects of UV Radiation
The UV-B has injurious effects on a broad array of biological structures (Solomon, 1990). It impairs the DNA depending on the amount and length of exposure; tiny and fragile organisms undergo more impairments than big robust organisms like human beings.
UV-B damages the development of specific plants, such as maize seedlings and sunflowers (Solomon, 1990). UV-B also affects phytoplankton by damaging their reproductive structure. Thus, increase of UV radiation disrupts food chains in addition to ruining lives.
Effects of UV Radiation on Human Health
Some of the effects of UV radiation on human health include: cancer, dermatological effects, immune suppression and ocular damage. Let’s consider each one of these separately.
The most severe consequence of UV-B is the danger of malignant, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (English & Armstrong, 1988). Studies indicate that there is a higher threat of malignant melanoma associated with a few incidents of severe sunburn, particularly in childhood as compared to prolonged low- intensity exposure (English & Armstrong, 1988; Homer-Dixon, 1991).
The rates of occurrences of malignant melanoma have been increasing while the inception age has been waning for some time. Most of these tendencies are definitely attributable to sunbathing, but not exposure to increasing intensities of UV radiations.
Moderate exposures to UV-B lead to sunburn while constant exposures cause loss of suppleness and speeds up skin aging (Solomon, 1990). A number of fair-skinned people suffer from severe photo-allergy (English & Armstrong, 1988).
UV radiation causes immune suppression in animals and persons (English & Armstrong, 1988). This is never determined by skin pigmentation. Therefore, all human beings are at risk of experiencing undesirable effects on the immune structure, such as increased occurrence of severe ailments and higher risk of malignant modifications.
UV radiation leads to macular degeneration and increases the threat of being infected by cataracts. Besides, pterygium appears more often. Whether these outcomes are usually instigated by UV radiation or by the mutual causes of sunbeams, temperatures or dust is vague.
Response to Ozone Depletion
Various kinds of reaction to the situation are necessary. Some of these include: trend assessment, research needs, public health action and public policy. Let’s look at each of these separately.
Assessments of UV radiation changes and the stratospheric ozone are necessary. They are supposed to be sufficient in selected sentry societies. Tests of UV radiation changes can be enhanced by installing measuring centers in cities and in ecologically susceptible regions distant from population hubs.
Extra research is required on the impacts of UV radiation. Exploration is required on stances towards employment of protective measures and basking. There is need for assessment of protective measures, for instance sunscreen creams and gels.
There are available reports on the shielding impact of sunscreen creams against suntan, although their effectiveness in preventing malignant melanoma and skin cancer are not explicit (English & Armstrong, 1988).
Public Health Action
Planned and well calculated public health reactions are essential. Australian mass media frequently airs weather messages aimed at cautioning on secure exposure intensities. Such messages entail advice on the need to avoid rigorous suntan particularly for kids and advice regarding outfits, sun glasses and sunscreen creams.
Gels that may shield one against extreme exposure to UV radiation may also be included in the messages (English & Armstrong, 1988).
There lacks Health Act and Occupational Safety guidelines for shield against UV rays. Health edification may assist to change mind-sets back to those that existed in western communities from late Victorian eras up to the end of the World War when a light skin tone, instead of a healthy skin, was deemed good-looking.
The aim is to lessen, as swiftly as feasible, the pollution of the ambiance by ozone-damaging chemicals, particularly CFCs. This necessitates political involvement. The majority of industrial states in which CFCs are manufactured and utilized have agreed to the Montreal protocol, therefore supporting the move to eradicate the manufacture and utilization of CFCs within minimal time.
Greenhouse Gases, Temperature and Climate
Atmospheric CO2 creates an opening of short wavelength beaming heat to the earth’s shell and ensnares reflected longer wavelength beaming heat (McMichael, 1991). The term greenhouse effect is used to express how gases in the ambiance make the earth’s temperature constant by creating an opening for the sun’s UV radiation, which heats the earth’s face, but obstructs the fleeing of mirrored infrared radiation. Therefore, the biosphere conserves a temperature array that sustains living.
The chief greenhouse gases include: methane, oxides of nitrogen, CO2, water vapor and CFCs (Solomon, 1990). Greenhouse gases are primarily caused by people’s behavior, particularly exhaust products from industrial processes such as coal-burning and use of power generators. Accumulation of greenhouses will eventually lead to global warming.
Effects of Global Warming
Global warming will lead to changes in the pattern of ocean currents and jet streams. This will change the circulation of rainfall, hence making some areas extremely dry and others extremely wet. Weather turmoil, for example hurricanes, may turn out to be more aggressive.
Global warming will alter the circulation of plant life. The potential of crops and plants to move from hot to cooler regions is doubtful. Some agricultural areas that are very productive, for instance the American Midwest may get drier, thus decreasing production severely.
Sea level rise is another effect of global warming, instigated by thermal increase of seawater collection and dissolving of ice-caps. Latest approximations envisage an increase of 0.5 meters in 50 years to come, which would be sufficient to plunge several coastal wetlands and interrupt their environment (McMichael, 1991).
All the above incidents will threaten food security, intensify coastal flooding, aggravate vector borne diseases, and reduce fresh supplies of drinking water, among other threats.
Overall Impact of Global Warming on Human Health
The major health effects of global warming to human beings are the risks to food security and pandemic ailments. A rise in atmosphere temperature of cryotic soil to about 0C would hinder development of plants (McMichael, 1991).
Response to Global Change
Issues regarding the worsening global environment have induced reactions from a number of international agencies. The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has organized several researches on atmospheric change and supports the Global Climate Observing System together with other national agencies.
In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) was moved by UNEP with an aim of signing environmental treaties (Schneider, 1989).
A number of states have instituted compound scientific programs aimed at keeping a close look at the impacts of global change and coming up with tactical reactions. For instance, Canada has instituted the Canadian Global Change Program while analogous programs are present in Australia and Netherlands (McMichael, 1991)
The Public Health Response
Weather havocs could turn out to be more vicious. For instance, rigorous floods could take place if constant weather systems are interrupted, as envisaged in global warming circumstances.
The mass migration of environmental refugees is a human calamity, and the extent of this migration will augment if more residences, particularly in emerging nations, are not able to maintain their habitats. The public health reaction to such disasters is better planned before than at the time of a disaster occurrence.
Education, Awareness, and Advocacy
Researchers and health personnel in various nations have expressed their views regarding the effects of global change. A number of them have advised their state rulers take precautions that can lessen the load of greenhouse gases. Nevertheless, action has been partial and restricted till now.
The worrying features of global change come from people’s activities. The global population is currently rising at a very high rate every year. The rate of universal revolution is enhanced by population increase which cannot go on for ever in the biosphere, since it is a closed and restricted structure.
Thus, people should ensure that there is equilibrium between the rates of giving birth and existing resources. A population collision is likely to take place unless we respond right now.
Human Values and Global Change
Worry and apprehension are evident in various mass media discourses on global change. The warning of scientists in the lack of sureness has motivated various leading commercial interest groups and governments to take fewer steps in decreasing dangerous emissions, regardless of crusades by various environmental interest groups.
Administrations in the industrial states have frequently resisted demands from these sectors, with support from the energy industry.
It is important to remember the development of outlooks toward the public health which have formed public health functions and rules in the precedent 100 years.
The progression is diffusion of scientific information about the environment and origins of health issues via mass media to the common public, followed by a transformation in values, in consequence leading to political demands for legislation designed to manage core causes of the health issues.
An example of a case that followed the progression is the nineteenth century sanitary rebellion and transformations in social values which led to more and more rigid directive of tobacco use in several nations in the twentieth century (McMichael, 1991)
In conclusion, global change impacts human health and nature to a large extent. Associated aspects of global change include environmental pollution with poisonous substances that harm the aquatic environment, agriculture, vegetation and construction materials as a result of acidic deposition.
The stratospheric ozone depletion has both biological and human health impacts. The most dangerous impact of the stratospheric ozone depletion is the threat of cancer.
Conversely, the chief health effects of global warming to human beings are the risks to food security and pandemic ailments. Various agencies and governments have come up with policies to control the negative impacts of global change. There is also need to control population growth and to change human attitudes towards global change.
English, D.R. & Armstrong, B.K. (1988). Identifying people at high risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma: results from a case-control study in Western Australia. British Medical Journal, 91, 114-16.
Farman, J. C., Gardiner, B. G. & Shanklin, J. D. (1985). Large losses of total ozone in Antarctica reveal seasonal ClOxNOx interaction. Nature, 315, 207-10
Homer-Dixon, T. F. (1991). Environmental changes as causes of acute conflict. Intel Security 16(2), 76-116
McElroy, M. B. & Salawitch, R. J. (1989). Changing composition of the global stratosphere. Science 243, 763-70
McMichael, A. J. (1991). Global warming, ecological disruption and human health. Medical Journal Australia, 154, 499-501
Schneider, S. H. (1989). The greenhouse effect: science and policy. Science, 243, 771-81
Solomon, S. (1990). Towards a quantitative understanding of Antarctic ozone depletion. Nature, 347, 347-54
Wilson, E O. (1989). Threats to biodiversity. Scientific American, 261(3), 108-16