Tania C. López-Martínez con Mexican Journal of Medical Research No. 10
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change1, climate change “refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcing such as modulations of the solar cycles, volcanic eruptions and persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use”. While the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change defines climate change as: “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”,2 it is suggested that the main reason of this climate change is due to important gas emissions such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The world’s climate has been heated up by approximately 0.75 °C in the last century. Several studies have suggested that the effects on the health due to climate change may be divided into four central groups:
A. cardiovascular disease. An example of this is mentioned in a statistical study where a gradual increase in the temperatures (2016-2065) will lead to a higher heat-related mortality by non-accidental causes of cardiovascular, respiratory, cerebrovascular accident, ischemic heart disease (IHD), and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) in the Jiangsu Province, China.3
B. Air pollutants and respiratory disorders. COPD affects 12-16 million people in the United States and it is the third-leading cause of death. Several studies suggest that outdoor air pollution exposure and the extremes of temperature -both heat and cold- have been associated with increased respiratory morbidity in COPD. In the same way, climate change is able to increase the volume of allergens and pollen, and outdoor ozone concentrations, as well as ground level particles. These changes affect the respiratory system (asthma, rhinosinusitis, COPD and infections).4
C. Vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. In this case, investigations mentioned the increase in three key groups: food-borne diseases, vector-borne diseases, and parasitic or zoonotic diseases.5
D. Malnutrition through food and water. Climate change will also affect the availability of food (agricultural production), the ability of households or families to purchase food (household poverty related to food prices), and resilience to the severe climate changes.5
According to statistic projections, climate change alone will increase the number of people at risk between 2030 and 2050. It is estimated an increase of 250,000 additional deaths per year in comparison to a future without climate change.1-6 To prevent or reduce climate change and its effects on public health, international and national organizations and authorities must implement a coordinated and well-planned strategy. This subject is accurately discussed in the manuscript of this journal’s edition “Regulations of the Health Care System facing climate change in Mexico” by López-Martínez.7 The author suggests a better design of laws, strategies and programs before implementing environmental policies in the country. It is of great importance the participation of the entire population, including businesspersons, the scientific community and students at all levels.
On the other hand, other interesting manuscripts published in this issue of the journal include “Cortisol, stress and diabetes: a dangerous relationship“ by Salame-Castro et al.8; “Mental health as an action field for public health” by Suberbiel Ramírez et al.9; “Omega-3 in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases” by Cerón Sandoval and Sandoval Gallegos10; and “Oral route as a mechanism of transmission of Chagas disease” by Castro Tenorio.