View Full Version : Health Warning Issued For Global Warming

02-21-2005, 06:24 PM
Health warning issued for global warming
Climate change could bring more smog, floods, drought

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior writer

Updated: 1:59 p.m. ET Feb. 21, 2005 If Earth's climate warms steadily in coming decades, as many scientists predict, heavy smog and extreme weather events could increase health risks in the United States and around the world, scientists said this weekend.

Warmer temperatures could bring increased rainfall to some regions, computer models suggest, as well as heat waves and drought.

The Midwest and northeast United States could see more frequent stagnation of air masses in the summer, for example. The condition would allow pollution — harmful low-level ozone and tiny particles that damage the lungs — to linger and build.

"The air just cooks," said Loretta Mickley, a research associate at Harvard University. "The pollution accumulates, accumulates, accumulates, until a cold front comes in and the winds sweep it away."

Mickley ran a computer model that assumed global warming through the year 2050. The frequency of virtual cold fronts that normally dip down from Canada to clear the U.S. air drops by 20 percent.

Other studies have shown that high levels of pollution are related to an increase in hospital admissions for cardiac and respiratory problems.

Global slowdown
The possible reduction in cleansing cold fronts is based on known aspects of the interconnected global climate. Low-pressure systems transfer heat out of the tropics and bring cold air away from the poles. If the planet warms, the poles are expected to warm more quickly. That would decrease the temperature difference between the poles and the equator, so the atmospheric "engine" that moves heat around would slow down.

Click to view images tied to global warming: a melting glacier in Bolivia, Antarctica’s icy vastness, the Amazon rain forest and a U.S. power plant.

"If this model is correct, global warming would cause an increase in difficult days for those affected by ozone pollution, such as people suffering with respiratory illnesses like asthma and those doing physical labor or exercising outdoors," Mickley said.

The simulation was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.

In an unrelated study announced Sunday, particulate matter — basically, tiny bits of soot — was found to thicken the blood and boost potentially harmful inflammation.

In the research, reported in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, scientists exposed human immune cells, umbilical cord cells and lung cells to particulate matter. The blood's ability to clot, or thicken, was enhanced in each.

"The rate of death in immune cells also significantly increased," the researchers report.

Other extremes
Though the causes of global warming are often disputed, most scientists agree change is under way, at least in the short frame of time that humans have been paying close attention. In terms of global average surface temperature, the four warmest years since the 1890s are 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Long-range climate predictions suggest 2005 may top them all given current conditions, such as the state of El Nino.

In a separate presentation at the AAAS meeting Sunday, Jonathan Patz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison said global warming could bring on a wave of health risks.

A possible increase in major storms, heat waves and flooding will be among the deadly effects, rather than the actual warming itself, Patz said.

"Averages don't kill people — it is the extremes," he said.

FACT FILE What drives climate change?

• Solar input
• The atmosphere
• The oceans
• The water cycle
• Clouds
• Ice and snow
• Land surfaces
• Human influences

Solar input
A third of the sun's energy is reflected back into space after hitting Earth's upper atmosphere, but two thirds gets through, driving Earth's weather engine.

The atmosphere
A delicate balance of gases gives Earth its livable temperature. Known as "greenhouse" gases because they trap heat inside the atmosphere, they send a portion of that heat back to Earth's surface. The gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

The oceans
Covering two thirds of Earth, oceans are the key source of moisture in the air and they store heat efficiently, transporting it thousands of miles. The oceans and marine life also consume huge amounts of carbon dioxide.

The water cycle
Higher air temperatures can increase water evaporation and melting of ice. And while water vapor is the most potent greenhouse gas, clouds also affect evaporation, creating a cooling effect.

They both cool Earth by reflecting solar energy and warm Earth by trapping heat being radiated up from the surface.

Ice and snow
The whiteness of ice and snow reflects heat out, cooling the planet. When ice melts into the sea, that drives heat from the ocean.

Land surfaces
Mountain ranges can block clouds, creating "dry" shadows downwind. Sloping land allows more water runoff, leaving the land and air drier. A tropical forest will soak up carbon dioxide, but once cleared for cattle ranching, the same land becomes a source of methane, a greenhouse gas.

Human influences
Humans might be magnifying warming by adding to the greenhouse gases naturally present in the atmosphere. Fuel use is the chief cause of rising carbon dioxide levels. On the other hand, humans create temporary, localized cooling effects through the use of aerosols, such as smoke and sulfates from industry, which reflect sunlight away from Earth.

Patz cites the heat wave that struck Europe last summer, claiming at least 22,000 lives, as an example of deadly events to come. Other scientists have suggested that the European heat wave, and even the unusual spate of four hurricanes in Florida last year, were related to a warming climate. But scientists are far from agreement on whether individual events like these can be attributed to overall climate change.

One thing is certain: While weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes and floods make for good TV headlines, heat and drought are deadlier.

A review of climate and weather disasters in the United States, going back to 1980, shows the top two killers were heat waves and associated drought, in 1980 and 1988. Combined, at least 15,000 people died owing to hot and dry conditions those two years. Drought contributes to famines and disease outbreaks in less developed countries that kill millions.

Mosquitoes and disease to spread
Scientists are not sure how climate change will affect the planet. Many speculate, based on computer modeling, that generally more extreme droughts, floods and other conditions could be on the horizon.

Increased local rainfall, Patz said, would benefit insects and animals that carry human disease. Similar warnings date back several years.

Several studies have linked increased rainfall to disease outbreaks. More than half of the waterborne disease outbreaks in the United States in the past 50 years were preceded by heavy rainfall, according to a 2001 Johns Hopkins University study.

Another 2001 report in the Journal of Medical Entomology warned that a warmer climate would bring increased mosquito populations and also allow the disease-spreading pests to spread into new terrain.

"Right now the evidence of significant global climate change is minimal, but there are already noticeable increases in human diseases worldwide," David Pimentel of Cornell University said at the AAAS meeting in 2000. "Most of the increase in disease is due to numerous environmental factors — including infectious microbes, pollution by chemicals and biological wastes, and shortages of food and nutrients — and global warming will only make matters worse."

Patz advocates long-range planning so government officials are ready to respond to changes and crises. "The key will be early detection, warning and responding to threats," he said.

© 2005 LiveScience.com. All rights reserved.

02-21-2005, 08:25 PM
how long do we have to live??? :bigcrying:

02-21-2005, 08:41 PM
how long do we have to live??? :bigcrying:
A few more days at least.

02-21-2005, 09:38 PM
A few more days at least.
good long enough to post my naked pictures :bigclap:

The Shape
02-21-2005, 10:40 PM
good long enough to post my naked pictures :bigclap:
Getting naked might not be such a good idea... Look what I did to this chick: