Impacts of Environmental Changes on Health in the Gulf Region
Impacts of Environmental Changes on Health
Keywords:Environmental Changes, Gulf Region, Health
From the mid-20th century, there has been quite a radical change in environmental and climate patterns regionally as well as globally. The reason behind these changes is primarily linked to deforestation, industrialization, expanded use of fossil fuels, and the extreme production of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. The environment comprises the surrounding conditions such as the complex of biological, physical, and chemical factors that act upon the ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival. Environmental change encompasses the disturbances caused either by ecological processes or by the human influence which can be in the form of man-made disasters including but not limited to wars, oil spills, pollution, cyclones, etc. Environmental changes are a huge threat to humanity as a whole. These changes can be detrimental to health in a multitude of ways. Most significant ones being exacerbating existing health conditions or causing unforeseen health problems. These environmental changes affect human health by polluting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food that we eat. As a result of accelerated progressions in technology, active industrialization, ongoing wars, irrational use of pollutants like petroleum, etc., the whole of our planet is susceptible to environmental changes, but some areas like the Gulf region have been more sensitive to these.
The gulf has shown climate deviations that have transmuted into various environmental extremes such as rising sea levels, melting of the arctic ice caps, droughts, and floods. According to the widely cited, "The Stern Review", a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius will see a 20-30% decrease in water availability in one of the regions of the globe, and a 4 Celsius rise will result in up to 50% decrease in water availability1. The latest example of this is Kuwait; where due to the environmental changes world's most scorching day was recorded recently in 20192.The Gulf region is the largest producer of oil and gas in the world fulfilling 1/3rd of the world’s needs. According to world bank statistics, UAE, Saudi Arab, and Qatar produce around 22.9, 19.4 & 43.9 metric tons of CO2 per capita against the global average of 5.0 metric tons of CO2 per capita. These materials when processed to make electricity and other products release greenhouse gasses which are highly susceptible to environmental changes that have a direct or indirect effect on the health in the region. The byproducts include particulate matter (PM2.5) that cause chronic respiratory diseases and also aggravate the asthma condition in many. Furthermore, the overall increase in urban smog also has an impact on the psychological health of a human being by making the environment dark and hazy.