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Course: Climate Change and Health (1616) - Assignment - 1 Autumm - 2023

Course: Climate Change and Health (1616)

Q.1: Define greenhouse effect. What are the trends in greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations and their impacts on human health and the environment? Explain with examples?

The greenhouse effect refers to the process by which certain gases in Earth's atmosphere trap heat from the sun, preventing it from escaping back into space. These gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and water vapor, act like the glass panels of a greenhouse, allowing sunlight to enter and warming the planet's surface.

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Trends in greenhouse gas emissions have been predominantly upward due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation, industrial processes, and agricultural practices. As a result, concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have been steadily increasing over the past century, leading to global warming and climate change.

Impacts on human health and the environment are multifaceted:

1. **Climate Change:** Rising temperatures alter weather patterns, leading to more frequent and intense heatwaves, storms, and floods. This can result in crop failures, water scarcity, and increased risks of wildfires, affecting food and water security.

2. **Air Quality:** Some greenhouse gases, like methane and nitrous oxide, contribute to air pollution, exacerbating respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis. Additionally, pollutants released alongside greenhouse gases from industrial processes and vehicle emissions further degrade air quality.

3. **Ecosystem Disruption:** Climate change disrupts ecosystems by altering habitats and migration patterns, leading to species extinction and biodiversity loss. For example, coral reefs are highly sensitive to temperature changes, with rising ocean temperatures causing widespread coral bleaching and death.

4. **Water Resources:** Changes in precipitation patterns affect the availability of freshwater resources, leading to droughts in some regions and increased flooding in others. This can impact agriculture, drinking water supplies, and sanitation, exacerbating health problems and economic disparities.

5. **Vector-Borne Diseases:** Warmer temperatures can expand the geographic range of disease-carrying vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks, increasing the spread of diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and Lyme disease.

6. **Food Security:** Climate change affects crop yields and agricultural productivity, leading to food shortages and price spikes. Vulnerable populations, particularly in developing countries, face increased risks of malnutrition and hunger.

7. **Extreme Weather Events:** More frequent and intense storms, hurricanes, and cyclones pose significant risks to human life and infrastructure, causing widespread damage and displacement.

In summary, the greenhouse effect and its associated trends in emissions and concentrations of greenhouse gases have far-reaching consequences for human health and the environment, impacting various aspects of life including climate, air quality, ecosystems, water resources, disease transmission, food security, and socioeconomic development. Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate climate change impacts, and promote sustainable development practices.


Q.2: Pakistan being agriculture country, explain the impact of agriculture sector

contribution on climate change with examples from history?

Pakistan's agriculture sector, while vital for the economy and food security, also plays a significant role in contributing to climate change. Here's a breakdown of the impact of the agriculture sector contribution on climate change with historical examples:

1. **Deforestation:** Historically, clearing forests for agricultural expansion has been common in Pakistan. Deforestation releases carbon stored in trees into the atmosphere, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the clearing of forests in northern regions such as Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for agriculture and timber has led to increased carbon emissions and loss of biodiversity.

2. **Methane Emissions:** Agriculture activities such as rice cultivation and livestock farming produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In Pakistan, rice paddies are a significant source of methane emissions due to the anaerobic conditions in flooded fields. Additionally, livestock, particularly cattle, produce methane during digestion. Historical practices of extensive rice cultivation and traditional livestock management have contributed to methane emissions.

3. **Nitrous Oxide Emissions:** The use of synthetic fertilizers in agriculture releases nitrous oxide, another potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Overuse and improper application of fertilizers in Pakistan have led to increased nitrous oxide emissions. Historical examples include the Green Revolution in the 1960s, which promoted the use of chemical fertilizers to increase agricultural productivity but also resulted in environmental degradation.

4. **Water Management Practices:** Inefficient water management practices in agriculture, such as flood irrigation and waterlogging, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the Indus Basin Irrigation System, while crucial for agricultural production in Pakistan, is associated with significant water losses and emissions of methane from waterlogged soils.

5. **Crop Residue Burning:** Burning of crop residues after harvest, a common practice in Pakistan, releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Historical examples include the burning of rice straw in the Punjab region, contributing to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

6. **Soil Degradation:** Soil degradation resulting from unsustainable agricultural practices, such as overgrazing and improper land management, reduces the soil's ability to sequester carbon. Historical examples of soil degradation in Pakistan include erosion, salinization, and desertification, which contribute to carbon loss from the soil into the atmosphere.

Overall, while the agriculture sector is essential for Pakistan's economy and food security, it also contributes to climate change through various practices that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Addressing these challenges requires adopting sustainable agricultural practices, improving water management, promoting agroforestry, and enhancing soil conservation efforts to mitigate the sector's impact on climate change.


Q.3: Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health?

Explain the statement that justifies the connection between human activity and

climate change?

Certainly! Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health in numerous ways, and understanding the connection between human activity and climate change helps illuminate this relationship.

1. **Air Quality:** Human activities such as burning fossil fuels, industrial processes, and transportation contribute to the emission of pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide. These pollutants degrade air quality and are linked to respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, as well as cardiovascular problems. Climate change exacerbates air pollution by altering weather patterns and increasing the frequency and intensity of wildfires, leading to further health impacts.

2. **Water and Food Security:** Changes in precipitation patterns and increased frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change affect water availability and quality, as well as agricultural productivity. Droughts and floods can disrupt water supplies and food production, leading to malnutrition, food shortages, and waterborne diseases. Human activities such as deforestation, intensive agriculture, and land degradation contribute to these environmental changes, exacerbating the impacts on health.

3. **Vector-Borne Diseases:** Climate change influences the geographic distribution and abundance of disease-carrying vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks. Warmer temperatures and altered precipitation patterns create favorable conditions for the spread of vector-borne diseases like malaria, dengue fever, Zika virus, and Lyme disease. Human activities that contribute to habitat destruction, urbanization, and the introduction of invasive species further facilitate the transmission of these diseases.

4. **Extreme Weather Events:** Climate change leads to more frequent and intense heatwaves, storms, hurricanes, and floods, posing significant risks to human health and safety. Extreme weather events can cause injuries, displacement, mental health issues, and infrastructure damage, exacerbating social and economic disparities. Human activities that drive greenhouse gas emissions, such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation, are primary contributors to climate change and its associated extreme weather events.

5. **Ecosystem Disruption:** Climate change disrupts ecosystems, altering habitats and species distribution, which can have cascading effects on human health. Loss of biodiversity reduces the availability of ecosystem services such as pollination, water purification, and disease regulation, impacting human well-being. Human activities such as habitat destruction, overexploitation of natural resources, and pollution contribute to ecosystem disruption and exacerbate the impacts of climate change on health.

In summary, the connection between human activity and climate change is evident in the various ways in which human actions drive the emission of greenhouse gases and contribute to environmental changes that ultimately affect the social and environmental determinants of health. Addressing climate change requires reducing emissions, mitigating environmental degradation, and promoting sustainable development practices to protect human health and well-being.


Q.4: What is vector borne disease? Which vector borne diseases have major impact on

climate change? Explain with examples.

Vector-borne diseases are illnesses caused by pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites that are transmitted to humans through the bites of vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks, sandflies, and fleas. These vectors serve as carriers of the pathogens, transmitting them from infected individuals to susceptible hosts during blood-feeding.

Several vector-borne diseases have a significant impact on climate change due to their sensitivity to environmental conditions influenced by climate variability and change. Here are some examples:

1. **Malaria:** Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by Plasmodium parasites and transmitted primarily by Anopheles mosquitoes. Climate factors such as temperature, rainfall, and humidity influence the distribution and abundance of both the malaria parasite and its mosquito vectors. Warmer temperatures and altered precipitation patterns associated with climate change can expand the geographic range of malaria transmission by creating more favorable conditions for mosquito breeding and the development of the malaria parasite. For example, in regions where malaria is already endemic, such as sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Southeast Asia, climate change may lead to increased transmission intensity and expansion into higher altitudes.

2. **Dengue Fever:** Dengue fever is caused by the dengue virus, which is transmitted to humans primarily by Aedes mosquitoes, particularly Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Climate factors such as temperature, rainfall, and humidity influence the distribution and abundance of Aedes mosquitoes and the transmission dynamics of the dengue virus. Warmer temperatures and increased rainfall associated with climate change can lead to expanded habitat suitability for Aedes mosquitoes and longer mosquito breeding seasons, increasing the risk of dengue transmission. For example, in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, such as Southeast Asia and Latin America, climate change may lead to increased dengue incidence and geographic expansion into new areas.

3. **Lyme Disease:** Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted to humans primarily by black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus) in North America and by Ixodes ricinus ticks in Europe and Asia. Climate factors such as temperature and humidity influence the distribution and activity of tick vectors and the transmission dynamics of the Lyme disease bacterium. Warmer temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns associated with climate change can lead to expanded habitat suitability for tick vectors and longer periods of tick activity, increasing the risk of Lyme disease transmission. For example, in temperate regions of North America and Europe, climate change may lead to increased Lyme disease incidence and geographic expansion into new areas.

These examples illustrate how climate change can impact the transmission dynamics and geographic distribution of vector-borne diseases by altering environmental conditions that influence the behavior and abundance of vector species and the pathogens they transmit. Effective strategies for mitigating the impacts of climate change on vector-borne diseases include vector control measures, surveillance and monitoring systems, public health interventions, and community engagement efforts.


Q.5: How does climate change affect vulnerable communities? What are the impacts of climate change on Asian countries? Explain with examples.

Climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable communities, including those in low-income countries, coastal regions, arid areas, and small island nations. Here's how climate change impacts vulnerable communities, with a focus on its effects on Asian countries:

1. **Extreme Weather Events:** Vulnerable communities are often more susceptible to the impacts of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, hurricanes, and cyclones. In Asian countries like Bangladesh, frequent cyclones and storm surges threaten coastal communities, leading to loss of lives, displacement, damage to infrastructure, and destruction of crops.

2. **Food and Water Insecurity:** Climate change disrupts agricultural patterns, reduces crop yields, and alters water availability, leading to food and water insecurity, particularly in rural and agricultural-dependent communities. In India, erratic monsoon patterns due to climate change affect crop production, leading to food shortages and malnutrition among vulnerable populations.

3. **Health Risks:** Vulnerable communities face increased health risks due to climate change-induced heatwaves, air pollution, waterborne diseases, and vector-borne illnesses. For example, in urban areas of Asian countries like Pakistan and India, heatwaves exacerbated by climate change pose significant health threats, particularly to elderly populations and those with pre-existing health conditions.

4. **Loss of Livelihoods:** Climate change impacts livelihoods in sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, and forestry, leading to loss of income and exacerbating poverty among vulnerable communities. In countries like Nepal and Bhutan, melting glaciers and changes in precipitation patterns affect water availability for agriculture and hydropower generation, impacting the livelihoods of communities dependent on these resources.

5. **Displacement and Migration:** Climate change-induced environmental degradation, sea-level rise, and natural disasters contribute to displacement and migration, particularly among vulnerable communities living in low-lying coastal areas and disaster-prone regions. For example, in the Maldives and Bangladesh, rising sea levels threaten the existence of entire island communities, forcing residents to migrate to safer areas.

6. **Conflict and Social Instability:** Climate change exacerbates existing social and economic inequalities, increasing the risk of conflict and social instability, particularly in regions with limited resources and weak governance structures. In countries like Afghanistan and Myanmar, competition over dwindling water and agricultural resources exacerbated by climate change can fuel tensions and contribute to social unrest.

7. **Loss of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services:** Climate change threatens biodiversity and ecosystem services that are essential for the livelihoods and well-being of vulnerable communities, such as pollination, soil fertility, and natural disaster mitigation. For example, deforestation and habitat loss in Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Malaysia contribute to climate change while also reducing the resilience of communities dependent on forest resources.

In summary, climate change exacerbates existing vulnerabilities and inequalities, posing significant challenges to the sustainable development and well-being of vulnerable communities in Asian countries. Addressing these challenges requires urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen resilience, and promote adaptation strategies that prioritize the needs and rights of vulnerable populations.