Climate change won't just have a devastating impact on species across the planet. It poses a threat to human health as well. In fact, according to the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, climate change could wipe out a half century of advancements in global health.
Thanks to improved nutrition and a reduction in the number of people coping with extreme poverty, humans have enjoyed increased longevity and are less likely to suffer chronic condition. Climate change could reverse that by creating food and water scarcity, compelling population migrations and changing infectious disease patterns.
Climate change is unlikely to create new diseases, but it will make existing ones worse. Take malaria for example. According to a study published in 2008 in the British Medical Journal, between 20 million and 70 million more people could dwell in malarial regions by 2080 as disease-carrying mosquitoes expand their territory. Climate change already kills 150,000 people annually, the World Health Organization (WHO) finds.
In the case of Lyme disease, to provide another example, a warmer world means more severe infections, found a study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Ticks have three life cycle stages -- larval, nymphal and adult -- and have one blood meal during each stage. If the host is infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme, the tick passes the disease on at the next stage. Those stages are largely determined by seasonal weather patterns, and researchers found that the longer a tick spends in each stage, the more severe the infection when the tick moves on to the next host.
Another study published in 2005 also concluded that a warmer world means a larger habitable area for ticks. In fact, given how ticks encroaching on new territory has led to a general increase in Lyme diagnoses since the early 1980s, and the EPA lists the disease as a climate change indicator.
11 Health Threats from Climate Change