Posted by: jennyxx | April 17, 2010

Quotes

“Rising temperature and carbon dioxide concentration increase pollen production and prolong the pollen season in a number of plants with highly allergenic pollen, presenting a health risk” (Anderson 96).  Carbon dioxide is a type of gas that plants require to absorb as they go through their food-making process of photosynthesis.  It is also a heat-trapping gas that can accumulate in the atmosphere and contribute to the greenhouse effect, which is the main cause of increasing temperature.  The amount of carbon dioxide increases and prompts the growth of plants during the warming season of spring.  Rising temperature and carbon dioxide increase promotes the growth of certain pollen-producing plants, like ragweed, that releases pollen into the air.  This poses an unfavorable condition for allergy and asthma sufferers as pollen can disrupt the function of their respiratory system, triggering an attack.  This also means that the rising temperature and carbon dioxide level becomes a health threat for individuals with sensitive respiratory systems.  The quote supports my thesis because it directly states that certain consequences of global warming causes a health risk and provides a possible reason of why there is a health risk.

“Direct effects of the anticipated changes in global and regional temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind patterns resulting from anthropogenic [human-induced] climate change are factors that have an impact on the vectors’ reproduction, development rate and longevity” (Marten 27).  The name vector is given to a living organism that carries a disease within itself and can potentially transmit the disease directly to another living organism, including humans, normally through bites.  The most common types of vectors are insects, and a classic example is the mosquito, in which it can carry deadly diseases like malaria and Dengue fever.  The increase in temperature allows the environment to become a suitable habitat for vectors because they use the heat to sense warm-blooded animals to prey on for blood.  Precipitation, especially rain, benefits vectors like mosquitoes because excessive humidity and still water is required for breeding.  As the warming temperature favors the growth of vector populations, the reproduction and development rate of these organisms eventually grows as well.  Therefore, the quote expresses that climate change due to human activities (release of greenhouse gases) affects the overall living of vectors.  The quote does not directly relate to my focus; however, due to the impact of the increasing temperature, the life cycles of disease-carrying organisms are altered.  The altered life cycles then influence the organisms’ risk of transmitting infectious diseases to humans to change, and possibly increase due to the favoring factors of warm temperature and humidity.

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Posted by: jennyxx | April 13, 2010

Introduction Draft

Global warming, an issue of debate among the scientific society, is a natural phenomenon occurring on Earth described by the gradual increase of global temperature.  This occurrence is known to be caused by the release of heat-trapping gases called the greenhouse gases by human activities, characterized by the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.  Greenhouse gases function to maintain a warm and suitable climate for the survival of living things on Earth.  In response to these activities, excessive amounts of greenhouse gases accumulate within the troposphere and intensify its warming ability on the planet, thus creating the gradual increase in temperature.  Among the different impacts of global warming, the increase in temperature causes a change in climate in different regions of the world, including early spring seasons and increased droughts and tropical storms in certain areas, and adverse quality of air.  Within the environmental effects of global warming, living organisms are also affected because they rely and survive in response to the environment.  The increase of greenhouse gases like ozone and carbon dioxide affects air quality and provokes the abundance of pollen in the air.  This presents health risks for people with heart and respiratory illnesses.  Extreme weather events like heavy rain can lead to possible flooding in low sea level areas.  Flood water can make contact with water sewage systems and contaminate the drinking water, allowing diseases to be transmitted from one person to another.  Warm temperature creates perfect living environments for disease-transmitting insects to populate, increasing their chances of transmitting diseases.  By the physical impacts of global warming, the healthy being of an individual is influenced by this occurrence of increasing temperature.  I will be looking through certain effects of global warming, specifically the warming temperature, the increase of ozone and carbon dioxide levels, and extreme weather events, and analyze the influence they have on human health.

Posted by: jennyxx | April 11, 2010

Defining Terms and Concepts

Global warming and climate change- These two terms often appear together in sources.  However, global warming is a broad term that defines the overall increase in Earth’s temperature which then can cause the climate to alter.  Therefore, climate change is an effect of global warming.  As defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA),

The term climate change is often used interchangeably with the term global warming.

Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer).

Global warming is an average increase in the temperature of the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface and in the troposphere [the lowest layer of the atmosphere where the majority of the weather occurs], which can contribute to changes in global climate patterns.

While global warming is the increase in temperature, climate change varies among different weather patterns.  Climate is influenced by the earth’s greenhouse effect, which is the absorbance of heat by heat-trapping gases (including carbon dioxide, water vapor, and ozone).  This natural effect prevents the planet from cooling to possibly an average temperature of under 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  However, due to the increase in the release of the heat-trapping gases by burning fossil fuels and deforestation, the greenhouse effect is intensified, causing the temperature of the planet to rise (therefore, global warming defines this phenomenon).  As the temperature rises, certain areas around the world will experience high intensity of heat waves and droughts, while other areas will experience heavy rain and humidity.  It is important to specify the difference between these two terms because global warming does not simply make the world hotter. It triggers other changes that the planet is going through, and additionally, living species are being affected as well.  Because of the various effects and change in climate that global warming stimulates, the human health is likely affected.

Ozone– Ozone is one of the heat-trapping gases (or greenhouse gases) mentioned above that gets trapped in the atmosphere.  Ozone is also known for protecting the planet from hazardous ultraviolet radiation that destroys life.  However, this gas may not always be beneficial for the planet and in turn can cause harm due to the extensive release of it by the human population.  The ozone that protects the planet is located in the stratosphere, the layer of atmosphere above the troposphere, but the hazardous type of ozone that harms humans from global warming is in the troposphere layer, and I will be focusing just on this type of ozone.  According to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research,

…tropospheric ozone is formed by the interaction of sunlight, particularly ultraviolet light, with hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, which are emitted by automobiles, gasoline vapors, fossil fuel power plants, refineries, and certain other industries. In urban areas in the Northern Hemisphere, high ozone levels usually occur during the warm, sunny, summer months. 

Ozone is one of the major components of smog, which plays a major role in air pollution, influencing health outcomes.

Carbon dioxide– Similar to ozone, carbon dioxide is also another type of heat-trapping gas.  It is most commonly known to be the type of gas that animals release from breathing and used by plants to live and grow.  However, as a greenhouse gas, too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contributes to the warming temperature.  Carbon dioxide is constantly being reused by the cycling process called the carbon cycle, which circulates the gas from the atmosphere through plants, animals, bacteria, and eventually back into the atmosphere.

The U.S. EPA states that

When in balance, the total carbon dioxide emissions and removals from the entire carbon cycle are roughly equal.  Since the Industrial Revolution in the 1700’s, human activites, such as the burning of oil, coal and gas, and deforestation, have increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.  In 2005, global atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were 35% higher than they were before the Industrial Revolution.

Extra amounts of carbon dioxide are accumulated in the atmosphere when the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation releases the extra gas.  As more forests are being cleared, there are not enough trees and plants to use up the extra carbon dioxide, which in turn promotes the growth of other types of plant life like pollen-producing plants.  When an extensive amount of pollen-producing plants grow, asthma and allergy sufferers are at risk for attacks, which is one of the topics that I will be covering in my paper.

Posted by: jennyxx | April 10, 2010

Synthesizing Two Sources

The best two sources that I have so far are the article from Environment, “What’s at Risk? Environmental Influences on Human Health,” and Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, a report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (report can be found here).  These two provide the most detailed information out the eight sources I am currently looking through.

The journal article evaluates the environmental hazards triggered by climate change that can potentially cause health risks and diseases.  More specifically, it focuses on the effects of human health caused by water sanitation and air quality.  The research report, on the other hand, looks at wider range of climate change factors, including warming temperatures, extreme weather events, changes in air quality, increasing carbon dioxide concentration, and the condition of water sanitation.  Both sources seem to complement each other.  The information that one source does not mention is being stated in the other.

The article and the report mention the types of disease outbreaks that can possibly occur due to heavy rainfall and flooding.  The report states that

Heavy rains can lead to flooding, which can cause health impacts including direct injuries as well as increased incidence of waterborne diseases due to pathogens such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia.  Downpours can trigger sewage overflows, contaminating drinking water and endangering beachgoers.

The article similarly discusses the impact of heavy downpours in relation to the spread of pathogens. Furthermore, it expands on the subject and analyzes the outbreak of cryptosporidiosis, a waterborne disease that causes diarrhea and fever, which the report did not discuss.  This provides the support that I will need to talk about how pathogens make its way by water to affect humans.

These oocysts [egg cells from organisms that carry Cryptosporidiosis] are of particular concern as they are resistant to chlorine treatment in regular municipal water treatment facilities and are small and difficult to filter.  The largest known recorded waterborne outbreak of cryptosporidiosis in U.S. history occurred in 1993 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where approximately 400,000 individuals were infected.

Another example of a waterborne disease that both sources discuss is cholera, an infection caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae and transmitted by contaminated drinking water and undercooked seafood.  Both sources connect the outbreaks to warming temperature.  Both sources briefly mentioned the issue of this disease so I would probably need to further research on it if I include it in my paper.

The article states that

Cholera outbreaks occur seasonally and are associated with monsoon seasons, warm temperatures, heavy rainfall, and increased plankton populations.  New major outbreaks of cholera are continuing to occur, especially in the wake of climate changes.

On the other hand, the report presents statistical data regarding the increased rate of cholera over a period of ten years.  This forms a stronger position in its claim and reliability.

There is a close association between temperature, Vibrio abundance, and clinical illness. The U.S. infection rate increased 41 percent from 1996 to 2006, concurrent with rising temperatures.

Both sources talk about the potential health risks that adverse air quality can trigger.  The majority of the focus between each revolves around the influence of ozone levels by increasing temperatures.

The article has several quotes that correspond to the connection between air quality and health.

In general, exposure to low levels of such pollutants as ozone, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter can irritate the eyes and cause inflammation of the respiratory tract.

Recent studies are revealing relationships between air quality and many adverse health outcomes, including asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  WHO officials stated in a 2000 Air Quality and Health meeting in Geneva that overall, air pollution from various sources contributes to 3 million deaths worldwide.

The report states that

… breathing ozone results in short-term decreases in lung function and damages the cells lining the lungs.  It also increases the incidence of asthma-related hospital visits and premature deaths.

The article is more specific in the topic about air quality.  Compared to the quote that the report presents, the article further mentions more possible health risks and shows the impact of air pollution and worldwide deaths using a reference of the Air Quality and Health meeting in 2000. However, since the article was published in 2004, the information that it gives may not be as updated and accurate. If I mention how the data of deaths from air pollution, for example, has changed over the years, the article will be very helpful for support.

Posted by: jennyxx | March 21, 2010

Research Proposal Draft

Global warming has been a continuing debate among scientists and researchers, considering whether this phenomenon is really occurring or what may be contributing to this effect on the planet.  When the words global warming appear, I immediately thought about the two most common focus: what causes it and how does it affects us?  I originally formed my focus around the environmental, economical, and social effects of global warming on the United States.  Since global warming is affecting every part of the world, researching about global effects would definitely be too broad to talk about, so I thought I should research on the effects that are occurring in places that are a little closer to home.

The more I researched the more information I found, which made me realize that my focus is still too broad for an 8-10 page paper.  I decided to narrow my research into a smaller area of focus, so I went after what global warming can do to the health of individuals.  For my research focus, I will be analyzing the potential health effects that global warming contributes to.  I will be researching about how rising temperature, increasing ozone and carbon dioxide levels, and increasing downpours influence human health. 

One of the major characteristics of global warming is rising temperature.  This causes a hazard because the high intensity of the heat wave increases the rate of heat-related deaths.  According to a report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, heat is responsible for the majority of weather-related deaths in the United States.  From 1999 to 2003, more than 3,400 deaths were reported due to the exposure to excessive heat.  Severe heat intensity creates a larger threat to older adults and young children as they are more susceptible to heat waves.  The increasing temperature also provokes mosquito and tick population growth, which triggers high risks in transmitting harmful diseases to humans, including malaria, yellow fever, Dengue fever, and Lyme disease. 

Rising temperatures promote high levels of ozone and carbon dioxide.  Ozone is a major part of smog, which causes difficulties for people with heart and lung diseases.  High amount of carbon dioxide encourages plant growth, and pollen-producing plants will cause frequent asthma and allergy attacks.  Increases in carbon dioxide also triggers weed growth that some types may cause rashes upon contacting with the skin.

Heavy rains not only cause flooding, but offer a way for waterborne diseases to spread.  When flood waters overflow the water supplies, the clean source of water is contaminated, affecting drinking water as well as recreational areas.  Parasites like Cryptosporidium and Giardia can be transmitted, which causes diarrheal illnesses.

Global warming is known to cause climate change from the accumulation of greenhouse gases, but not many sources mention the potential health effects that global warming can cause.  I believe that people should be aware of what can possibly happen to their health as the climate gradually changes or increasingly heavy rain pours.  For my research, I want to analyze what these health concerns are and how they affect individuals.

Posted by: jennyxx | March 16, 2010

Searching for Blogs…

On blogsearch.google.com, I found two blog posts that focused on how the rising of temperature is causing more incidences of allergy and asthma attacks.  Since I want to focus on how global warming affects people’s health, I think these two posts would be able to give me a start on what to look for.  Even though both posts talked about the same thing, one was more descriptive while the other gave a general view of the problem. 

The first blog post came from 2012 Doomsday Predictions, called “Global Warming Makes Allergies Worse.”  The post began by explaining the connection between global warming and allergies.  It stated that in the past three decades, the spring season had been longer and started earlier by ten to fifteen days.  During this time of the year, levels of carbon dioxide increases in the air, and this promotes the abundant growth of plants and weeds.  The more plants, the more pollen is produced, leading to an increase in allergy symptoms.  Not only is warm weather causing high levels of pollen, but the rise of humidity level promotes growth of molds and fungi, which are also common allergens.  The blog, 2012 Doomsday Predictions, was very interesting to look through.  It even had a whole category with things about global warming that it posted up.  I tried to see if the blog had anything that said who runs it or where it got its information from, but there was nothing specific.  I wouldn’t say that the post is very reliable, but the things that it mentioned is very similar to what other articles and blogs stated. I got a little confused when I read:

The large number of people releasing carbon dioxide into city air also stimulates weed growth. Research has shown that city weeds can grow twice as large as their country cousins.

I was hoping that I might be able to look more in depth about that statement.  If only they would say where the “research” came from…

The second post came from ecommunity.com, called “More Allergies? Global Warming May Be to Blame.”  Compared to the first post that I found, this one didn’t really provide much information (very general).  Rather than talking about how global warming can cause more plant growth, most of the post was about how high levels of pollen can cause more cases of allergies.  It was starting to go out of my focus when it began to talk about how many Americans are affected by pollen and how to deal with allergy symptoms.  I might briefly mention how many people could be suffering from pollen allergy if the temperature rise triggers high pollen levels, but other than that, I probably wouldn’t use this for my research.  The post was more reliable than the first one though.  It had quotes from experts regarding the issue and links to other health organizations.

The increase in pollen may even be causing additional people who are susceptible to develop pollen allergies, says Renato Ariano, M.D., author of a new study on the topic.  Ariano presented the findings in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

I found it helpful that the post mentioned some details about Ariano.  It reassured me how much this person knows about the topic.

Posted by: jennyxx | March 13, 2010

News Articles

I started with searching articles on news.google.com. I wanted to narrow my search to how global warming affects people’s health.  The first article I found, “What Effects Will Climate Change Have on Wildlife,” talked about how the changes in weather conditions influence the distribution of wildlife diseases. One of the diseases mentioned in the article was avian malaria, which can be harmful to the endangered birds of the Hawaiian Islands.  The parasite that causes avian malaria is limited to warmer elevations below 1500 meters, but if the higher elevations start becoming warmer due to climate change, the mosquito population (which transmits the parasite to the birds) will increase, raising the avian malaria transmission rate.  Like most wildlife diseases, an increase in temperature leads to an increase in mosquito and tick populations, resulting in greater risks for infectious diseases.  The article might not be very helpful for the research since it focused mostly on wildlife diseases, but some of the diseases mentioned, like Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis, do affect humans.  I might be able to use these examples for a part of the research though.  The article came from the weather section of the local news in Phoenix, Arizona. I think it should be reliable because at the beginning of the article, it said that the information came from the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The second article I found came from Time magazine’s website, called “How It Affects Your Health.” It talked about three factors (air, water, and insects) that are being affected by global warming and what these three factors can cause. Air- High levels of carbon dioxide prompts the growth of ragweed, which produces high amounts of pollen and increases asthma and allergy attacks. Water- One of the effects of global warming is heavy rainfall, leading to floods. As sewer systems overflow from floods, it mixes dirty and clean water, causing contamination.  Insects- The article discusses about mosquitos and ticks similar to the first article I found.  This article should be pretty helpful for my research since it focuses on different effects that global warming causes that relates to human health.  The article should be reliable because the Time magazine is an accredited source of information. However, the article was published in 2006, so the information might have changed a little.  I can still probably use this information to compare with more recent findings.  I find this website pretty useful because I found many sources of information dealing with this topic that would be helpful for the research.

On the school library’s website, I searched for the terms, “global warming,” “effects,” and “United States,” in the Academic Search Premier. It was hard to find an article that wasn’t fifty pages or only a small paragraph (my search was probably too broad). I tried to limit down the publication dates to a more recent time, which helped me cut down almost a half of my results. Many of the articles that I found were from PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), including the one I’m using for this post.  This article discussed the data that was collected in areas around the U.S. from 1950 to 2005.  The three major crops that the U.S. produces are corn, soybeans, and cotton.  In the data presented by the article, it showed that each of the major crops have a specific temperature that acts as a limit.  As the climate temperature rises above the limit temperature, the production of the crops drastically decreases.

The article, “Nonlinear Temperature Effects Indicate Severe Damages to U.S. Crop Yields Under Climate Change,” briefly mentions:

“Agriculture is a key focus because of its direct connection to climate… the U.S. persists in being the world’s largest agricultural producer and exporter of agricultural commodities, so impacts in the U.S. could have broad implications for food supply and price worldwide.”

Even though different parts of the world may experience different effects from global warming, one effect links to another, and gradually leads to the issue that the whole world is being influenced by global warming. For example, in this case, the instability of the climate disrupts the seasonal growth of crops, affecting the agricultural industry of the U.S. and eventually influences the economy (imports, exports, etc.) with other countries. 

Possible ways for the industry to adapt to the changing weather are to change the environment to provide a proper place for the crops to continue growing and to improve the technology to raise the crops against the unsuitable climate.  However, developing new strategies to withstand the rising temperature can cost money, and as the cost of growing crops increase, the cost of buying them will also increase.  The article pointed out:

“The simplest form of adaptation would be to change the location… where the crops are grown.  If climate change were anticipated… increases in commodity prices would likely encourage greater investments in new seed varieties, irrigation systems, and other technological changes.”

This sparks the idea that because of the temperature rising, the impacts of it can create a chance for technology to advance further, which might not be a bad thing.

My very first focus for the research was to look at the effects of global warming on the United States. After looking through the library books and seeing how long the lengths of some articles that only focus on one effect can be, I probably would need to make my focus more specific. So far I’m not exactly sure if I would want to do my research on the agricultural effects of global warming, but if I do, this article would be a good source to consider using. The data in the article may not be the most recent, but it’s something to look at and can be used to compare with more recent data if I ever come across to any.

Posted by: jennyxx | March 4, 2010

Finding Some Books…

The first “book” I found at the library is actually a pamphlet-looking report that was released by the Congressional Budget Office called Potential Impacts of Climate Change in the United States that gave an overview of the effects from climate change.  I really liked the way how it is organized according to three topics: effects on the environment, biological systems, and the economy and human health – exactly what I’m planning to focus on for my research!  It also has graphs and charts that compared how the country was affected by climate change over the years.  The information is very brief but it should give me an idea on what I should be looking for in the research.  I think it should be reliable because it came out on May 2009 and it provided sources in the end.

The second book I found is called Hope for a Heated Planet by Robert Musil.  This book talked about different topics about global warming, like what is happening to the some places around the country (mostly about the temperature rise), what might be contributing to the climate change, what might happen in the future as a response to it, what people can do to save energy, and some political aspects of global warming.  Similar to the first book I found, this book was published last year, so the information should be relevant, and the author provided sources in the end.

Posted by: jennyxx | March 3, 2010

Comparing Two Sources

I searched for “effects of global warming on United States.”

On Google, I went on  www.epa.gov/climatechange/.  The website organizes the subject into different categories (basic information, effects, climate economics, science, etc.) which then are separated into subcategories.  I clicked into the link for health and environmental effects.  What I found the most interesting was that there was a link that briefly explains what global warming is doing to different regions around the country now and possibly in the future.  The page has the link to where the information came from, which turned out to be a research report that was conducted by another research program.  I think this page will be very useful if I decide to talk about the effects on different regions in the U.S. in my research.  This website provides only general information, but it lists external links to other sites for additional information, so I can actually find where it got the information from.  This site should be reliable because it is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is frequently updated with current news and external sources. 

On Google Scholar, I found a summary of the research report, “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” from the U.S. Global Change Research Program.  Since it is only the summary of the report (which is actually 196 pages long), the information is very brief.  The summary starts with the possible cause of climate change along with its consequences on the United States, including effects on agriculture, health, and changes in rainfall.  The summary provides the website for the official report, and it was published in 2009, so that makes the information highly relevant.

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