Michigan’s climate has been affected negatively by global warming just like the rest of the world. However, it is especially important to monitor Michigan’s climate because the possible effect on our enormous fresh water supply. It can be difficult for people to wrap their heads around the long term effects of global warming because it is such an extensive issue affecting all aspects of our daily life. However, if we look at the effects on our health, it is easier to put the consequences of global warming, in perspective. If human survival is at stake, people are much more likely to be concerned with the issue at hand.
Global warming causes a rise in average temperature of our earth. The combination of human and environmental factors leads to several health threatening changes in our lives. Agriculture, water quality, UV exposure, and life-threatening storms will all be affected due to changes in our earth’s climate. It is so important to study these effects because they will directly affect the safety and livelihood of future generations.
First of all and probably most obvious is the increase in heat-related deaths that are a result of the increase in average temperature and increase in the number of days of extreme heat. The human body cannot withstand extreme heat for long periods of time, especially in times of water shortages and power outages. The number of days of extreme heat is expected to double or triple in cities like Detroit in the next few years. This extreme heat can cause fainting, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and even death. These symptoms can be prevented but they require careful planning and lots of water.
Water is crucial to human survival but global warming has many negative effects on water quality as well. The increase in sea levels along our coasts could flood many cities, resulting in a drop in water quality and a direct health risk to humans in the nearby areas. Also, when our river flows decrease and the temperature continues to rise, this will greatly increase the pollutants in our rivers and bays, because there will be less water to dilute our supplies. Even large storms that will be a result of global warming will cause more runoff, and flooding of our sewage systems, increasing the infectious disease in our waterways.
Another life-threatening effect of global warming is the intensity of the sun’s rays. As our atmosphere is damaged due to the gases that we release into the air, the sun’s UV rays become more intense. These UV rays are responsible for skin damage that can even lead to cancer. Although we have sunscreen to protect ourselves, as the problem gets worse, it will become more difficult to completely protect ourselves. This damage to our atmosphere will also increase the incidence of ground level ozone. This will decrease air quality and therefore lead to increase incidence of respiratory diseases.
Michigan residents will experience all o f these negative health effects if we do not start to change our lifestyles and protect our earth from the effects of global warming.