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Explaining the global issues of environment and health

The aim of this paper is to clearly explain two global issues; the environment and health; why it is a global issue and its effect on human existence. The issue of health and the environment are important because the negative impacts of both could determine whether the human population will continue or not.

The way in which the goals of this paper will be achieved is by firstly defining the environment and health; identifying some of the issues affecting both, explain which each are considered global issues; giving examples of instances of impact, their effect on business globally and locally. After this is done an explanation would be given as to how these separate issues are in fact connected and finally recommendations would be provided as to how these issues could be dealt with. The health of the people is very important and in order to get to the root of some of the health problems in the world some environmental issues would have to be addressed. All this will be done through the analysis of internet based sources, personal knowledge, academic articles and media article, this will help in providing a better picture of the issues at hand.

The environment is all around us, it is our surroundings, and it affects our very existence on this planet. The environment includes both living and non living things (Princeton Online Dictionary, 2010). There are many issues affecting the environment in a way that has negative implications for both plant and animal life, some of these issues includes; pollution and global warming (Oracle, 2010). Although there are many other issues affecting the environment these are the ones which will be addressed in this paper.

The first issue is pollution. Pollution is defined as the careless dumping of harmful/waste materials into the soil, air and water (Earth 911, 2010). There are many types of pollution but for the purpose of this paper only land/soil and water pollution will be addressed. Land pollution is basically the act of contaminating the earth’s surface via the discarding of waste products with no regard for the negative impacts of such activities. This issue of land pollution is one which is present in all parts of the world. One cannot leave their place of residence without seeing some form of land pollution, although there are many efforts to protect the earth from this, some people still display little regard for the environment which is pretty much sustaining their very existence on this earth. Littering, agriculture and landfills have all been identified as ways in which land pollution take place (Oracle, 2010) and each of the identified has nothing but harmful effects on the environment. It is difficult to determine which one does the most damage since they all have their individual impacts. However the one thing they each have in common is that they are in some way, shape or form having negative implications on the environment and the people who leave in these polluted areas.

Water pollution involves the contamination of the body of water surrounding the earth. It is quite sad when you think about it, the land is polluted and the sea surrounding this land is also polluted so in essence the earth just seems to be a circle of contamination. What is even more sad is that despite the efforts of many people this problem is one which will never be totally eradicated from the earth. It will ultimately take a lifetime to clean up the earth at the rate at which cleanup efforts are going. In the case of water pollution it is not only human life that is at stake; marine life is also in quite a bit of trouble. Things like oil spills and the dumping of waste products into the water is just two of the ways in which the life of our aquatic plants and animals are been put at risk. An example of an instance where the spilling of oil affects the life of our marine creature habitat and also human life was the case of the BP oil spill in April of this year. When the oil made its way to the shores and coastline and interacted with elements such as boulders, rocks, gravel, vegetation, marine habitat, wild life and humans it caused erosion and contamination. The long-term effects of the oil spill are far worse than that of the short term since the oil residue settles on the bottom of the ocean. The food chain for which fish and sea creatures depended on in order to reproduce successfully reproduce was interrupted. There was a great possibility of commercial fishing in the contaminated regions been permanently affected. Lack of oxygen in the water causes the water to be warm hence increasing the likelihood of dangerous hurricanes and change in weather patterns (Embach, 2010).

This brings me to my next environmental issue of global warming. Global warming according to Princeton University’s online dictionary is defined as “an increase in the average temperature of the earth's atmosphere; especially a sustained increase that causes climatic changes” (2010, para.1). The issue of global warming is one which has received high concern over the years and is believed to will receive even higher levels of concerns as the years elapse. There are many reasons for this global warming; one been the increased emission of greenhouse gasses. The human race has been contributing to the increase of this emission of these gasses through the burning of fossil fuels and other greenhouse gas emissions (National Geographic, 2010). With natural disaster occurring, not inclusive of oil spill this means that persons are losing their way of life for example person making their living through the fishing industry.

Global impact of the environmental issues on business

The issues identified as environmental are global issues because it is not just a case of these problems occurring in only one part of the world. These problems are prevalent throughout the earth in its entirety. These issues not only have effects on the life of human but businesses are also affected.

For BP, the oil spill has caused them to lose a great amount of money. They had to clean up the spill plus pay people to carry out the cleaning up process while settling claims; so the cost of this pollution is great. This could also be the case for manufacturing companies, according to the products they are using then this could affect the persons consuming their products and also their employees. Therefore it is safe to say that there is a decrease in revenue when a business has to make allocations for cleaning up pollution that they caused, and a business’s money gets tied up in this. They might have to cut back jobs and this would decrease production, which could also mean that consumers would not be getting the quantity of produce that is usually expected from the company.

There could also be a loss of revenue in terms of the tourism industry; worldwide. It is quite obvious that persons would not want to travel to places that are polluted. So this means that the economy of these countries would suffer because of the lack of income from this source. This can further lead to poverty, especially if the country’s main source of funds was reliant upon the tourism industry.

One of the business forms that are most affected by this dramatic change in climate is the agricultural industry. Some crops require a certain temperature to grow. With a change in the climate these crops are not growing as they should. This is causing problems for these agricultural companies because this would mean that they cannot harvest their produce in time to sell. It could also mean that they are spending money to plant the crops but they unfortunately the crops are not meeting the standard of quality needed to sell, therefore causing the business to lose money. This not only affects the businesses but it would also affect us as consumers because your choices would now be limited. There is a general rule of economics which states that when supply decreases prices increase; this could ultimately result in even more of the world’s population moving under the poverty line. An example of an instance where is the extremity of the change in climate is affecting the growth of a particular crop is the case of coffee. The problem as it exists in India will be used; it was said in their September report submission to the international coffee council, that global warming was having negative impacts on the growth of their coffee beans. Their crops are been infested with pests that thrive in heated conditions and the increased heat is also causing the crops to ripen before the time which leads to a decrease in its quality

(Business Line, 2010). Obviously consumers/manufacturers who depend on coffee beans from India would not want to purchase from them because of this problem and other coffee bean growers in that region who are not experiencing such problems with their produce would increase their prices due to this decrease in supply.

Local impact of environmental issues on business

The both cases of land and water pollution businesses in Grenada would be affected. In the case of land pollution, some of the impact can be seen every time rain falls. Due to the drains been clogged up with waste products and dirt every time there is a great amount of rainfall all the water flows into the road and even into some of the businesses making it difficult to continue with their days work. This is especially true for business in the Grand Anse area. When a business has to close its doors for any reason, especially in the case of supermarkets and restaurants this means that money is lost.

Also the tourism industry might be affected by this environmental problem; tourist would not want to come to an island that is polluted and expose themselves to the possibility of contracting diseases. This decrease in tourist arrival would also affect the livelihood of persons depending on the tourism industry to make a living. On the other hand, there could also be an increase in tourist arrival to the island if other tourist destinations are no longer deemed ‘tourist destinations’ because of pollution issues. This is given that Grenada does not fall into the category of non tourist destination because of said reason.

Global warming impacts us locally, because it is affecting the temperature of the sea and air. In recent times we have been experiencing extremely high temperatures, and rising in the sea level, our marine live is at stake, it was recently discovered that the corals are beginning to bleach because of the this increase in the temperature in Grenada, but this is not a problem in Grenada alone, this is also a problem that is faced on a global scale. According to the director of Odyssey Expeditions, Jason Buchheim, “Global climate change may play a role in the increase in coral bleaching events, and could cause the destruction of major reef tracts and the extinction of many coral species” (Buchheim, 1998).

The increasing heat can also cause increase in the number of storms and hurricanes that the island faces.

The heat also is making it difficult for persons to do their daily job to the level that they usually do. Persons are feeling sluggish and drained and this is decreasing the productivity of the workers, which means that in one way or another the business might be losing money. To stray from the impact of global warming on business, it should also be far enough to mention that this increase in temperatures is also having an impact on us as students. We are also feeling drained and sluggish, and the end of the day we are just too tired to get any work done. As a result we are not producing the quality of work that we have the potential to produce which unfortunately leads to unsatisfactory grades.

Health

According to globalhealthaction .net a health issue is defines as problems relating to health, issues and concerns, that goes beyond national borders, that are possibly influenced by conditions or practices in other countries and are dealt with by using cooperative actions and solutions. This is the meaning of global health issues. The one u have is the definition of health.

According to Princeton University online dictionary health is defined as “the general condition of body and mind” or “a healthy state of wellbeing free from disease” (2010, para.1). Some of the health issues currently been faced by the world today includes; cholera, malaria, typhoid, AIDS, Tuberculosis, H1N1, Influenza, cancer, dengue fever. It is saddening to say that there are many more diseases currently plaguing the earth, and there are new ones discovered regularly. At this point we can only hope that the present and future doctors will be make a significant difference by helping patients with terminal illnesses to live longer lives. This however may be a problem, because it was only recently discovered via an article by The Wall Street Journal, that US based medical schools are not producing enough medical students to sustain the number of person who are currently been insured under the new law, it is said that according to projections, in the next 15 years there will be a shortage in the number of doctors in the US by 150,000 (Wang & Sataline, 2010).). This begs the question of what if there is an outbreak of some disease sometime in the near future, what is going to happen to these people who can never get the opportunity to see a doctor? It is all good and well that persons are insured but if there no doctors to attend to them insurance would seem very trivial. It wouldn’t make a difference if the entire population was insured; if there are not enough doctors to attend to these patients then they are just as good as dead. What makes it even worse is that although in the article, they were accounting for the US population; this does not give a true representation of the people who depend on health care in the US. Many persons travel from countries where health care is just deplorable, to seek help in a place where they believe that the most aid will be given to them. An example would be the case of Grenada; there are not many doctors who are versed in many of the health problems of the world. With persons becoming affected by diseases which were never common in our part of the world, this means that the doctors here may not be the best source of help. This is why many persons travel to the US and other countries to seek medical attention. If the population of medical professionals is facing a shortage, then this would have dire effects on the world’s population. Another issue of health care is the lack of prescription drugs. Though there has been shortage of prescription drugs in the past, provinces in Canada are experiencing an increase in the occurrence of the shortage (Derfel, 2010). Some of the prescription drugs that are reported to be short supply are drugs for leukemia and the antibiotic Penicillin and they are now turning to alternatives which are proven to have much more side effects than that of Penicillin. This shortage of drugs again can increase the number of deaths and if not taken seriously by the WHO can lead to a world disaster. The article also goes on to say that they are relying of India and China for the raw materials to make the drugs but those two suppliers are unreliable. What will happen when they really would not be able to obtain the raw materials from these countries?

A recent health issue – one which was identified above in the list – is dengue fever, although it did not have the kind of impact that the H1N1 virus had when it took the world by storm two years ago, it still had significant impact that warrants it as very important. The issue of dengue fever became a global issue and a concern for the health of individuals because although the mosquito can only survive in tropical and sub tropical areas persons from outside these regions are still getting infected. This is because most of these regions are considered to be tourist attractions and persons are flying out to these places to enjoy their vacation time – this is also how many other diseases are been spread. Should the dengue mosquito continue to invade the countries of the Caribbean and other tropical/subtropical regions the chances of more persons in countries where the mosquito is not present becoming affected could increase. Most persons travel to these tourist destinations during the months when they are experiencing winter and most would have planned their trip for so long that they opt not to let their plans go to waste. While dengue is not a contagious disease a problem is still posed to other people should an infected person return to their home, should an uninfected mosquito bite a person carrying the dengue virus, then that mosquito can contract the virus and pass it on to persons who have not been infected (Wrong Diagnosis, 2010).

It is very important that any and all precautions are taken as it relates to health issues because they have a direct consequence on the longevity of all people.

Global impact of health issues

Health issues has many effects on the world on a whole, an example of one such effect will be illustrated by using dengue fever. Persons living in tropical areas are getting ill and those who have travelled to these tropical areas and returned home are also getting ill, carrying with them the dengue virus which mosquitoes then contract and spread. Given the fact that the dengue fever is nicknamed ‘break-done fever’, then it is more than likely that people would be unable to carry out their normal daily functions which would include their job. For instance in countries like Thailand and Vietnam where there are manufacturing plants (clothing manufacturers) it is more than likely that these manufacturing plants ships products to suppliers worldwide. Suppose about half of their workforce gets infected by the dengue mosquito then will certainly cause a halt in production. This would directly affect the suppliers’ productivity which could lead to a loss of money for both the manufacturer and the buyers alike. On a whole any disease which has severe effects that would hamper the daily routine of individuals would ultimately have an effect on business.

As it relates to the fact that there is a decrease in prescription drugs, this just means that persons would not be able to get their required medication. This could also mean that for some businesses that are able to source the raw materials need to make these drugs, this is a way to maximize their profits. Lack of supply plus high demand equals increased prices. For sick persons worldwide who are already struggling to make ends meet, this could mean that they either have to not purchase the drugs and possibly die, or use whatever money they have to buy the drug and then stay without some of the basic necessities of life. This in a nutshell means they would be living in poverty.

Local impact of health issues

The impact that health issues could have on Grenada would firstly include the effect on the tourism industry. If there is a pandemic of some sort, then the chances of persons travelling to other countries for leisure are going to be severely decreased. Even if there is not a pandemic or endemic or even an epidemic, persons would more than likely not want to travel to a country where a disease is spreading. This will of course lead to a decrease in the country’s revenue since it is so highly dependent on tourism.

If larger countries cannot get medication it is just a matter of time for us here to be on the same page. As a small island we are already finding it quite difficult to get the different medications needed to aid in recover/recuperation process, so when the problem of limited medication arises, we need to start getting worried about what is going to happen to us. If these big countries will much more money than we could ever dream of is finding it difficult to get these drugs than the chances of us sourcing limited supplies is even more difficult. It is already a problem of finding medical practitioners in Grenada to perform certain operations so persons needing medical treatment and travelling overseas to receive it will not be able to receive the necessary treatment if there is no drug in the larger countries.

Health issues could also cause a lack of productivity of employees in any business. This is especially common during cold and flu season, which many persons being infected with the cold this would mean that the job which they are supposed to be doing will not be done until the person is well enough to return to work, and consequently the amount of money that could have been made as a result of the employees been there to do their job would also decrease.

What is the connection between both issues?

The correlation between the issues of the environment and health is quite simple; it is because of environmental issues that some health related issues even exist and using the two environmental issues highlighted above there can be more than enough health problems arising from them.

It is a known fact that pollution not only has negative impacts on the health of humans but it also threatens the life of plants and animals alike. Through the release of toxic materials in the land this is poisoning the plants and also the animals in the soil as well as those that feed on the plants. As for humans, we also depend on plants for food so depending on if the contaminated plant is a source of food supply then this means that these toxins are getting into our bodies and this can lead to various health issues and in extreme conditions death. This is also very true in the case of water pollution, for in the case of the BP’s oil spill, an article entitled Gulf Oil spill was released which read: Scientist assesses health effects from the L.A. Times environmental newspaper, Greenpeace, written by Amina Khan stated that scientist and natural Resource Defense Council has indicated that the oil spill will have health effects on seafood and humans that are more extensive than expected. The article also stated that in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, an examination of the possible effects of the oil spill on workers and, residents and seafood that comes from the gulf of Mexico was been done (Khan, 2010).

They pointed that crude oil releases chemicals into the atmosphere and once inhaled the volatile aromatic hydrocarbon can cause breathing problems as well as affect the central nervous system. Benzene is also another chemical found in crude oil that has been linked to birth defects and leukemia. Hundred of cleanup workers in the state of Louisiana have reported suffering from headaches, vomiting, difficulty breathing and severe chest pains (Khan, 2010). Pollution in general can cause lots of health problems which includes: respiratory problems, possible birth defects and it can also cause different kinds of cancers (Buzzle, 2010).

Then there the issue of global warming; which also affects the health of all life on earth (World Health Organization, 2010).

“Global warming is not only a threat to our future health, it already contributes to more than 150,000 deaths and 5 million illnesses annually, according to a team of health and climate scientists at the World Health Organization and the University of Wisconsin at Madison—and those numbers could double by 2030”(Larry, 2010).

Scientists have been monitoring the growing impact of global warming on the health of people living in different regions of the world. It has been realized that the people most affected by this growing problem of global warming are those people living in the poor countries. They found this very ironic because these people are the ones who contribute the least to the problem of global warming as it is right now. Yet they are the most susceptible to health risks and possibly death as a result of this dramatic change in the earth’s climate (Larry, 2010).

The increases in temperatures mean that there is also an increase in the number disease borne insects (Buzzle, 2010). This was the case this year with the dengue fever carrying mosquito.

According to Martin Krause, UNDP’s Bangkok-based technical advisor on climate change for the Asia-Pacific region, “A major public health threat is coming from the vector-borne disease that depends on temperature and on humidity” (Heller, 2010).

The reason why the change in climate can increase the risk of dengue fever is because global warming is causing the increase in the variations of mosquitoes. The warmth of the climate is a key contributor in facilitating the survival of the mosquito species (Heller, 2010).

“The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report summarized research showing that various arthropods that carry vector-borne diseases, such as ticks, mosquitoes and sandflies, have all been moving into more northern latitudes in response to recent warming” (Varner & Gale, 2010).

Several studies have been done by public health researchers, in relation to the connection between the dengue virus risk and the change in climate, and it was found that vapor pressure accounted for 89 percent of the circulation of the dengue cases. This team of researchers projected that by 2085, the world’s population at risk for dengue would have doubled (Heller, 2010. There are quite a number of health issues that can arise from the infection of dengue fever; it is not called the break-bone fever for no reason. Although it has been said that you cannot die from dengue fever, some persons develop ‘Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever’ and in some instances people do die as a result (World Health Organization, 2010).

Environmental issues though they may appear to be a totally different problem as compared to health related issues, it can be seen that is does not hold true. While some health related problems may not be related to the environment there are a great number of them that are in fact directly affected to the environment and the issues with the environment are directly related to what we as humans do, our actions.

Both these issues can also result in poverty, for example it was mentioned that persons were left unemployed because of the oil spill, because economic times are very difficult at this point, it may be very difficult for every unemployed person to get a new job. Although they would not instantly fall below the poverty line, it would take some time and if there are no employment opportunities. This could cause these people to not be able to sustain their basic needs. This is also true for health. Even though it may not be the case with the contracting of dengue fever, some other diseases could cause some families to live in poverty; especially diseases that are life threatening. All the family’s money could be spent in medical expenses with little or none left for basic necessities. The situation could also be reversed; families in poverty could have no money to take care of their sick members.

In the world today. all countries depend on each other for food, and other supplies. More than 65% of Grenada exports come from the United Stated. A reduction in productivity as a result of outbreak of diseases will reduce the export amount, not only to Grenada but the world at large. This could lead to food shortages as the amounts imported by countries are not able to meet the needs of their citizens.

Grenada and several other economies at present depend heavily on remittances from First World countries. Lost of job, as a result of reduced productivity would mean that poverty would slightly increase in these countries that depend on remittances.

The productivity of a country is reflected in its Goss Domestic Product (GDP) and also in the economic activity. Reduction in GDP means that government would have to borrow externally from institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for funds to sustain economic development, hence increasing the amount of external debt. In order to service debts governments would have to implement fiscal policies which may very well include taxes. An increase in taxes leads to reduce saving, income, foreign direct investments (FDI) and consumption. This could lead to a reduce in imports from foreign countries, such as the US, reduce in production for the US, which could also lead to loss of jobs and reduction in remittances that Grenada receives.

The effects of a healthy environment and healthy people is all a cycle, where one thing affects the existence of another.

These point are important so please include them.

Recommendations

Environmental

Sustainability is the key to reducing the effects of environmental issues.

Human being need to increase efforts to use natural resources within sustainable limits.

Educate the public: It is not simple to educate the public but it is very much needed to help solve our environmental problems

Recycle

To reduce consumption recycles all wasted or unused natural resource.

To reduce deforestation, recycle material manufactures using trees or plants

Reuse

To meet our increasing demands, reuse recycled materials

Reduce

The amount of biodegradable materials consumed on a daily basis should be reduced

The activities that increases pollution of water bodies, the air, the soil, and the forest

To reduce pollution and exploitation of nature reduce consumption of energy

Reduce the amount of carbon emissions emitted into the atmosphere

Businesses should increase their corporate social responsibility.

Enforce regulations (stiffer penalties). As it related to BP oil spill --- if stiffer penalties such as prison sentences was incorporated with paying a fine, executive would be more careful and more ethical in conducting business

Health

Educate the public about safe health practices

Inform about out breaks of new diseases and how to go about dealing with them and preventing them.

For e.g. the outbreak of the H1N1

Wash hand regularly

When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose

Do not reuse napkins

Immediately seek medical attention once any signs have been detected

What over the counter drug to buy to treat symptoms

Continuous training of existing health workers:

New diseases are emerging, with similar symptoms like previous diseases. If workers are trained continuously they will be better able to diagnose diseases and begin treatment as they see fit.

Hire qualified health workers:

Because of the economic recession, medical employers see it fit to reduce cost hence the increase in the employment of uneducated and unskilled workers (not qualified would have to pay them less). Employment of unqualified workers could lead to an escalation of mishaps in the health system such as misdiagnose, wrong administration of drugs for treatment.

Governments duties

Health information should be routinely checked, updated and strengthened.

The health department of an country should have resources in place to get updates on new diseases.

Invest in building capacity to facilitate staff and people in order to undertake analysis, for supervision and to increase the quality of health facility records.

Increase facility capacity to accommodate patients, for example in the event of a pandemic such as malaria larger facilities would be needed to attend to persons who are ill (e.g. labs for running test). Also a larger facility would also increase the comfort level of staff and create storage space to make medical records more accessible.

Encourage and contribute to the sharing of information with and within locality to better the management systems. And also ensure that the flow of information is accurate.

Information about diseases should be shared among localities to help prevent further outbreaks into other localities.

Make possible coordination between Non Governmental organizations (NGO) and public sector organizations.

In order to combat the spread of infectious diseases governments need to foster coordination between the NGO such as WHO and Caribbean health environmental Institute (CEHI ) in order to obtain financial support , updates and ways of dealing with the epidemics.

Monitor migration, domestically, regionally and internationally to establish trends or patterns with the outbreak of infectious diseases.

After the carnival season here in Grenada it has been noticed that that there has always been outbreaks of the influenza, conjunctivitis (Red eyes), and chicken pox. If the health officials monitor migration then they would be able to detect the source of these infectious diseases and be able to screen persons who are coming in.

Conclusion

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