*NEWS*HEALTH WARNING FOR GLOBAL WARMING
*NEWS*HEALTH WARNING FOR GLOBAL WARMING
2005-02-26 at 10:37:00 am #10545
Health warning issued for global warmingClimate change could bring more
smog, floods, drought
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
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
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
Other studies have shown that high
levels of pollution are related to an increase in hospital admissions for
cardiac and respiratory problems.
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.
“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
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.
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.
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
Mosquitoes and disease to
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
_________________________________________Global Warming Could
Worsen U.S. Pollution: Report
WASHINGTON – Global warming could
stifle cleansing summer winds across parts of the northern United States over
the next 50 years and worsen air pollution, U.S. researchers said on Saturday.
Further warming of the atmosphere, as is happening now,
would block cold fronts bringing cooler, cleaner air from Canada and allow
stagnant air and ozone pollution to build up over cities in the Northeast and
Midwest, they predicted.
just cooks,” said Loretta Mickley of Harvard University’s Division of
Engineering and Applied Sciences. “The pollution accumulates, accumulates,
accumulates, until a cold front comes in and the winds sweep it away.”
Mickley and colleagues used a
computer model, an approach commonly used by climate scientists to predict
weather and climate changes.
She told a meeting of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science that the model predicted a 20-percent decline in summer
cold fronts out of Canada.“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,” she said.World temperatures have risen by an average of 1 degree
Fahrenheit (0.6 degree Celsius) over the past century.
Earlier this week 141 nations signed the U.N. Kyoto
Protocol aimed at cutting the so-called greenhouse gas emissions that fuel
global warming.It imposes caps on carbon dioxide emissions, mainly from
burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars, in 35 developed
nations.The United States, which produces the most pollution of
any country, has refused to sign it.
The model used by Mickley and her colleagues
incorporates things such as the sun’s luminosity, topography of the planet, the
distribution of the oceans, the pull of gravity and the tilt of the Earth’s
axis, as well as predicted warming.They fed in gradually increased levels of greenhouse
gases at rates projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. What
they found surprised them.“The answer lies in one of the basic forces that drive
the Earth’s weather — the temperature difference between the hot equator and
the cold poles,” Mickley said.In the middle latitudes, low-pressure systems and accompanying
cold fronts help redistribute heat by carrying warm air to the poles and
replacing it with cool air. Warming slows that process down, Mickley’s team