Dr. Ring, and her husband Michael Shapiro rode their bicycles across-country from California to spread the word about the unhealthy affects global climate change is creating. They will end their journey in Washington D.C. later this month, lobbying members of Congress.
Ring pointed to several results the world is seeing now, all having to do with climate change. We have prolonged drought conditions in some areas, severe storms and excessive rains and flooding in other areas. All these conditions are having an impact on health concerns, and exacerbating some diseases already present, said Dr. Ring.
Dr. Ring said, Climate change mobilizes a lot of environmental contaminants and puts them back in our face. When there is heavy rainfall or you have coastal storm surges, if you have lead or mercury or PCBs in that soil, then it gets washed out from the soil and carried into bodies of water where it can concentrate back up the food chain and come back to us."
The doctor also cited the ban on shellfish harvesting in waters off of Fisherman’s Island on the Eastern Shore this past summer as just one result of the impact that climate change has caused. With the warmer waters, shellfish, being filter feeders were ingesting an increased number of the vibrio bacteria, and people eating the shellfish became sick. The ban was to be lifted after Nov. 1.
Another result of climate change is the change we are seeing in the seasons. This past year in the Richmond-metro area, spring seemed to come much earlier than usual, causing trees and grasses to bud and seed earlier. Molds and pollen were abundant, and people with COPD and other respiratory problems were at risk of symptoms becoming worse.
Heat waves, and we are already familiar with them, will continue to impact many people's health issues, particularly the elderly and those with heart disease, respiratory disease and other chronic illnesses.
Even more telling is the recent draft study for the United Nations. The indirect impact of climate change on our health is more far-reaching than most people realize. In drought stricken regions, reduced production of food stuffs will possibly cause increases in the cost of food to consumers, and could adversely affect low-income families, leading to health-related issues such as starvation and vitamin deficiencies.
Climate change, whether or not you believe it is here, is certainly real enough. Regardless of how it is caused, man-made or just the earth going through another evolutionary phase, is something we are going to have to deal with.