As the planet overheats and gas prices remain high, we could get thinner; we might sneeze more; and we have a higher chance of getting kidney stones. That's the good, the bad and the ugly, according to the latest research released concerning the future of our health in terms of external circumstances.
Perhaps most concerning recently, is a study from the University of Texas that predicts rising temperatures will cause an additional 1.6 million to 2.2 million kidney stone cases by 2050. Unsurprising, considering that hotter days will cause us to sweat more, dehydrating the body, and in turn increasing the urine's salt concentration and the likelihood of kidney stones forming. According to the research team, the study is one of the first of its kind to show how global warming can cause a direct medical consequence to humans.
But there have been plenty of studies to suggest that rising CO2 levels can only cause us more harm than good. Earlier this week, for instance, the Environmental Protection Agency reported in a document—one which, apparently, the White House tried to dismiss—that climate change can cause a slew of health problems. Aside from extreme weather events, smog-related respiratory illness and lung disease, sweltering temperatures can also promote pollen production and consequently worsen allergies.
Perhaps, the only good news about our health of late comes from Charles Courtemanche, an assistant economics professor at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, who says that rising gas prices can make us thinner. A dollar increase in gasoline price could slash obesity rates by as much as 10 percent due to changes in lifestyle, and ultimately save 16,000 lives as well $17 billion in health care expenses each year, he says. Still, you can't have your cake and eat it, too, by sitting around.
What about the obvious connection to more heat stroke and dehydration.
The link between higher gas prices and potentially lower obesity rates is starting to show signs in my area. As major consumers of fast food because of its lower cost, lower class individuals, who are most directly affected by higher gas prices, seem to be walking and riding bicycles more because they can't afford gas. Incidentally, these just so happen to be the same people who normally cannot afford health coverage to deal with the affects of poor diet and lack of exercise. It all makes sense to me, and I have actually been preaching the benefits of higher gas prices for the past couple of months now, noticing the subtle changes. When I moved to the area I live in, I was one of maybe 4 people using bicycles as a main form of transportation. After 6 months and a fifty cent increase in gas prices, I would now estimate at least 100 people regularly using bicycles to get around (I live in a small town).
The existing economic situation will definitely impact any plans either presidential candidate has to lower the number of Americans without health insurance. In recent years, health care reform has taken a front seat in the media, but with the combination of the stock market plunge, housing crisis and major job losses, there’s no doubt that those problems overshadow the millions of Americans with no or very health insurance.
As the government attempts to figure ways of bailout for the financial industry, which is absolutely necessary to keep the economy from going down under, I’ve heard nothing recently about a governmental bailout plan for the health care industry. Of course, the financial turmoil is important, but also are the 46 million Americans, including school-age children, that live without health insurance.
With millions of American household having employer-sponsored and affordable health insurance, the idea of families not having health care is hard to envision, and some don’t see it as a major problem. But because we all are impacted by gas prices, the Iraq war and the housing crisis-these things take precedent.
It’s really sad that health care isn’t taken as seriously as other major problems. The effects of not having adequate health care can be long lasting. For example, Black women are 67 percent more likely to die from disease, like breast cancer, because of issues related to not having access to screening, early detection and treatment, according to the American Cancer Society Inc.