Global warming has gotten a bad rep. It is generally accepted that the temperature on the Earth has risen over the past century. But whether this was caused by human activities or natural cycles has become a polarizing political argument. Perhaps, instead of focusing on the politics, if global warming is viewed as a health issue for every individual, everyone can work together to institute measures to counter global warming, instead of being tangled up in political differences.
Global Warming as a Health Issue: Relatable to Everyone
In recent years, the issue of global warming has received extensive public attention. Children now learn about the greenhouse effect early in their science educations, and it is generally accepted that climate change has been occurring. The Pew Center on Global Climate Change has worked tirelessly to show the world that the average temperature on Earth has increased by about one degree Fahrenheit over the past century and is increasing more dramatically as time goes on. This in itself is not what garnered global warming the attention and the stigma which it now has in the realm of politics though. That was due to the association between climate change and human activity. When both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Pew Center on Climate Change reported that global warming’s causes were rooted in greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, political issues arose from every side. Many called for the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions; industries reliant on processes which released carbon dioxide lobbied against. Others attacked the scientific studies, while supporters called for green energy. Once the entire process of industrialization of human civilization had come to hold the blame for rising temperatures, the issue of global warming became an intensely debated social issue. In the years since, it has fallen to a political undercurrent which few are willing to bring up in fear of its polarizing effects. But it remains an important issue to this world. Therefore, those who wish to create change in human activity in order to combat global warming are now turning to ways in which the issue can be confronted without immediately causing people to take sides. They now seek to appeal to the individual.
Regardless of political stance and no matter whether he believes climate change is caused by human activity or not, every individual understands the value of his own health. Parents especially want to secure a better future for their children, and that requires ensuring that rates of such a vast assortment of maladies as West Nile virus, asthma, and natural disasters do not increase. For instance, a single mother raising two children in an urban area is likely not very concerned about the issue of global warming. She probably avoids politics as much as she can. Since the topic of climate change has become such a politically charged issue in our present polarized culture, how does one explain the dangers of a warming climate to someone not receptible to a political message? If it is explained, as Brenda Afzal explains in Global Warming: A Public Health Concern, that children are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses and vector-borne diseases due to their under-developed immune systems and higher breathing rates, then involvement in the issue becomes personal. And personal involvement functions as a much more powerful motivation for most people than the common good or the environment. Everyone is interested in his or her own well-being.