As a global citizen and an environment conscious individual, I understand how necessary it is for everyone to do their bit in order to reduce carbon footprints and take action against the very real threat of global warming.
But this also adds to my responsibility as a doctor, since my patient’s well-being is my duty. As doctors, we often educate patients about the lifestyle changes they need to incorporate to ensure better health and outcomes for themselves. We ask them to keep an eye on the food their consuming, get enough exercise and allow themselves adequate hydration and sleep. What we often fail to tell them is how seemingly inconsequential actions they partake in their everyday lives contribute to the fall of the looming avalanche that is crippling public health standards.
It is important to understand that any damage we cause to nature will inadvertently have its effect on our bodies. Global warming and climate change are a very real threat to the existence of life as we know it.
At the rate we’re emitting heat-trapping gasses into the environment, the earth’s temperature is rising at an alarming rate. We see it in the form of unbearably hot summers that just seem to get worse each year, unpredictable rainfall and the melting of arctic glaciers. In 2017, more than 200 people in Telangana lost their lives to the heat wave.
As the earth gets hotter, throwing our ecosystem off its delicate balance, we see the consequences manifesting themselves across nature. Unpredictable rains lead to either devastating floods or crippling drought. These patterns affect crop cycles, leading to not only financial loss for farmers but a pandemic of malnourishment. Excessively hot and humid climates are breeding grounds for epidemics of malaria, cholera, dengue, etc. Several million people across the world are vulnerable to these infections and every year, the number of lives lost see a steady rise.
The greenhouse gases we let out into the atmosphere, coupled with the ever increasing rate of forest fires are creating ground level ozone. Inhaling these toxins is a massive threat to the cardiorespiratory system, and we witness this with the rise in number of patients who come in with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Heart Diseases, etc. The emissions, coupled with static air, sunlight and extreme heat are covering our cities in smog. You can see global warming in action in the very capital of our country.
The combination of heat and greenhouse gases also cause plants to mature faster and produce allergens in excessive amounts, leading to a hoard of disorders of the respiratory and immunological system.
A major hurdle in combating the impending doom of global warming has been getting the public actively involved. Often, people are slow to care about issues they do not see immediate consequences of, or if they assume that they are immune to these consequences. But if they’re educated about the effects climate change and global warming are having on their own health as well as that of their children, today, we’d see an army of people joining hands to make positive, meaningful and impactful change.
- Dr Niranjan Ravuri