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Health Needs in the Future

When climate change is discussed, no matter at what level, the primary concern is rising temperatures and the impact that will have on the environment.

This is justified as rising temperatures are by far the most pertinent aspect of climate change which must be addressed.

However, climate change is not exempt from the “focus problem”, wherein the smaller facets of an issue are ignored, usually unintentionally, due to the stronger focus on a large aspect of the issue.

People frequently respond to a large scale issue with more determination, which is why it makes sense to present an argument in that manner. But in order to cross the line between advocating and action, smaller facets must be introduced to the argument to convince people.

One would think there would be no need to work this hard to convince the public to take dramatic action against a changing climate, yet it has proven difficult—possibly due to the multitude of inconveniences that combatting climate change presents.

One smaller aspect, which is deeply intertwined with other issues surrounding climate change, is the impact on the overall health and well-being of people all over the world, not just the United States. Human disease is worsening due to the effects of climate change, and health agencies estimate at least 30 percent of diseases can be attributed to environmental exposure.

Linda Birnbaum, the toxicologist who leads two little-known scientific agencies, the National Institute of Environmental Health Services (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP), says 30 percent is defining the issue narrowly. Environment, according to Birnbaum, includes not only climate exposure, but also the food one eats, the prescription drugs one takes, the stress one is exposed to and so on. This definition of environment takes into consideration the chemicals surrounding an individual, in addition to the actual climate.

In the United States, a concern held by many is access to and effectiveness of health care, and despite the Affordable Care Act being passed, this is still a contentious issue.

Climate change will only stress the American health care system more, and cost more to care for everyone. Thus, action against climate change will not only improve the health of the environment, but also the health of the individual.

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