Today, the problem of climate change affects the entire world and this problem is one of the major global problems. In this respect, it is important to underline that human activities are main causes of this problem, though some specialists argue that global warming may be caused by natural factors as well (Andreae, 1996). Nevertheless, it is an undeniable fact that human activity contributes consistently to the progress of global warming which leads to irrevocable changes in global terms. In such a situation, the normal life of people worldwide is under a threat because effects of global warming may be and already are disastrous since global warming leads to the climate change in global terms. However, many people, including political leaders and economic elite remain unaware of possible threats which results from the progressing global warming. As a result, a few practical steps have been made by now to prevent the further deterioration of the current environmental situation and to stop progress of global warming. Therefore, the understanding of possible effects of global warming, which may be extremely disastrous, can contribute to the growing awareness of public and political leaders of the world concerning real threats resulting from global warming. In such a way, the growing awareness of possible threats and dangers can stimulate the world community to undertake practical steps to solve the problem of global warming and these steps should be taken as soon as possible. Otherwise, the future of the mankind as well as many other species will be under a threat of total extinction. In such a context, the future of Australia is also unclear because the country is also susceptible to the negative impact of global warming and climate change which can change the environment of Australia totally.
However, the impact of climate change on health care is often underestimated because environmental concerns are traditionally prior when the problem of climate change is discussed. In actuality, the negative effects of climate change on health care should be taken into consideration by Australian policy makers because, in spite of a high level of the development of the health care system in Australia, the country may be unprepared for the emergence of new disasters and new diseases which can overwhelm the country and affect Australian population en mass.
The effects of climate change
The effects of global warming and climate change can be disastrous. In fact, the mankind has already witnessed and keeps witnessing negative effects of global warming. At this point, it is important to underline that global warming have multiple effects which may be both direct and indirect and Australia, being one of the largest countries in the world, cannot avoid these effects. Among direct effects of global warming, it is possible to single out the global climate change (Barnett et al, 2005). The growing temperature contributes to the dramatic changes of climate and, what is more, it leads to the irrevocable change of geography of the planet and its surface. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the dramatic decline of the surface covered with ice on the poles of the planet. In fact, Arctic and Antarctic ice is melting steadily, its depth and surface is decreasing dramatically. Naturally, this leads to the increase of the level of sea waters.
As a result, many countries and regions of the world, including Australia, face a problem of the protection of the coast line since the high level of sea waters tend to cover the coastline with water. For instance, Australia have to be aware of the necessity of the protection of its coastline by constructions, which can prevent the country from being flooded by oceanic waters, since, today, the level of sea waters is higher than the ground level (Bartter, 1988). In such a way, potentially, the increasing level of ocean waters threatens to cities and settlements of located on the coastline. At the present moment, this means that millions of people may need to move from the coastline. At the same time, this problem naturally raises health care issues, such as the necessity to create new health care facilities as well as introduction of additional measures to prevent the population of cities exposed to floods from the spread of epidemic diseases.
Obviously, the migration can have disastrous demographic and socioeconomic effects as well. For instance, the migration of the population from the coastline inside the continent will increase the density of population in certain regions. The latter will increase the demand for food supplies, which will be accompanied by the decreasing number of agricultural lands which may be also flooded by sea waters on the coast or by rivers (Bartter, 1988). The food shortage can lead to the deterioration of epidemic situation and emergence of numerous health problems associated with poor nutrition.
At the same time, global warming may have a totally different effect since the climate change leads not only to the increase of the level of sea waters but it also changes the traditional climatic conditions in different parts of the world. For instance, today, Europe suffers from the extremely high level of rains and snowfalls. The same trend can be traced in some parts of the USA. Moreover, even African climate which was traditionally warm has started to change and snowfalls occur in regions where they have never occurred (Davis et al, 2005). Naturally, Australia is also susceptible to considerable changes. In this respect, it is important to reveal a dangerous trend to the increasing surface of the land covered with deserts that is also the effect of global warming, in a way. To put it more precisely, the climate change results in the excessive, abnormal precipitation in some regions of the world and permanent droughts in other regions of the world. At the same time, climate change can have a negative impact on the health of the population because people need time to adapt to a new climate type.
As a result, natural conditions become unfavorable for the life of people and other species. Moreover, even modern technologies cannot prevent the dramatic climate changes which naturally results in the change of socioeconomic activities (Bartter, 1988). In fact, both excessive precipitation and droughts are unfavorable for the development of agriculture. Obviously, this leads to the socioeconomic crisis provoked by the decreasing food supplies since crops become poorer and poorer. Even today, it is already possible to observe the dramatic change in the food market. Food prices have increased dramatically within the last couple of years. In such a situation, the problem of starvation and the lack of food has become one of the most dangerous effects of global warming.
It proves beyond a doubt that food shortage can provoke serious social conflicts along with the spread of diseases caused by poor nutrition. At any rate, food shortage will definitely lead to the growing social tension, while in the future this problem may outgrow into military conflicts for food, agricultural lands and sources of water (Clark et al., 2002). In other words, one of the indirect effects of climate change may be the growing social tension and military conflicts provoked by scarcity of food and water, which will be accompanied by a considerable deterioration of national health since proper nutrition and clean water are major conditions of a good national health.
However, along with warnings concerning the dramatic climate change which result in the dramatic increase of temperature and global climate, some specialists (Christianson, 1999) warn that global warming can lead to the absolutely paradoxical result ”“ the new ice age. At first glance, such a prospect seems to be absolutely improbable, but, in actuality, specialists (Barnett, 2005) warn that global warming can naturally end up with a new ice age because of the dramatic climate change which results from global warming. To put it more precisely, global warming, which, as it has been already mentioned above contributes to the melting of ice in Arctic and Antarctic regions, can influence dramatically the Golf Stream, which, at the moment, is the major stream which provides the circulation of warm water in the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, the melting of Arctic ice can decrease dramatically the temperature of sea water. Hence, the temperature of Golf Stream can decrease that will result in the total disappearance of the stream because there will be no temperature differences of water in the ocean, but it is exactly due to the temperature difference the water moves and forms the Golf Stream. If the Golf Stream dies out, this will produce a dramatic influence on the climate to such an extent that some specialists (Barrows et al, 2007) warn about the possibility of the beginning of a new ice age. They argue that the temperature will decrease dramatically because there will be no warm water circulated by the Golf Stream. Consequently, the Atlantic coast can face a problem of a considerable decrease of an average temperature. Obviously, such changes cannot fail to affect socioeconomic activities of people and, what is more, such changes will deteriorate consistently the life of people and their health, if not to say, they will threaten to the survival of people, especially in Southern regions of Australia, which is closer to the pole than Northern regions.
The risk of new diseases
At first glance, Australia has a highly developed health care system which can afford climate change with little negative effects on the national health at large. However, such a view on the national health care system is erroneous or, at least, superficial. It is necessary to understand the fact that, today, Australia is unprepared for the considerable climate change which can change not only the traditionalÂ environment, which Australians get used to live in, but climate change will also impose new health care challenges to the national health care system, which it has never faced before on such a scale.
To put it more precisely, one of the major risks Australia can face in the future is the emergence of mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, Ross River fever and Dengue fever (Barnett, 2005). The contemporary health care system can cope with these illnesses, but they are rare in modern Australia, while climate change can contribute to the spread of these illnesses en mass. As a result, the national health care system will need to cope with these diseases on the grander scale like it has never done before.
In addition, it is necessary to take consideration a considerable demographic change and migration caused by climate change which can multiply the risk of fast spread of infectious diseases en mass. At this point, the efforts of the national health care system aiming at the minimization of the risk of epidemics should be amply supported by policy makers since the immigration policy of Australia also needs to be changed. The control and examination of the population arriving to Australia should be stricter in order to minimize the risk of the penetration and spread of infectious disease along with the huge wave of immigrants from other countries, where standards of life are consistently lower than in Australia.
Furthermore, today Australia has already faced the problem of a sharp rise in deaths from the heatwaves, especially in elderly people with chronic and cardio-vascular diseases (Christianson, 1999). More than 1,000 people aged over 65 die each year from heatwaves in Australia, while specialists (Barrows, 2007) forecasts that, depending how high temperature go, this could rise to 8,000 ”“ 15,000 each year by 2100 in the worst case scenario. This threat needs considerable changes not only in the health care system but also in the lifestyle of people. This means that people should be aware of the risks accompanying heatwaves, while the construction of buildings and facilities, manufacturing of vehicles, clothes manufacturing, water supply, etc. need to be changed in order to ease the negative impact of heat on human body.
Moreover, specialists (Fleming, 2000) warn that rural areas can suffer from economic hardships and social crisis caused by the effects of the climate change, including droughts, possible food shortage, which can lead to depression, higher rates of suicide and substance abuse.
This means that Australian health care system as well as national policy makers will have to deal with new problems related to physical health and mental health as well. At any rate, the emergence of serious psychological problems, especially in rural areas, is almost inevitable because climate change is likely to destroy the traditional lifestyle of the rural population. In such a way, national health care system and policy makers need to develop effective approaches to the prevention of psychological problems, such as depression. For instance, the increase of psycho-analysts in rural areas may be helpful as well as organization of special psychological training and psychological preparation of people to socio-economic problems.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the problem of climate is a serious threat to the future well-being of Australians as well as all people inhabiting the Earth. In fact, this problem raises the question of physical survival of the mankind and other species and the total change of the climate on the Earth. Unfortunately, people do nothing to avoid the environmental apocalypse, while today it is already obvious that negative environmental changes are irrevocable and disastrous. There are practically no positive effects of climate change, at least, in a long-run perspective. On the other hand, the negative effects of global warming are numerous. In this respect, the global climate change seems to be particularly dangerous because it will have multiple natural and socioeconomic effects which can put the mankind on the edge of the total extinction as well as other species inhabiting the planet. Climate change, being, to a significant extent, provoked by human activities, can result in the deterioration of natural conditions because of the global climate change. Potentially, climate change can lead to the growing number of natural disasters, which Australia and other regions of the world have already witnessed in recent years, such as floods, hurricanes, droughts, and so on. Obviously, such dramatic climate change will lead inevitably to the deterioration of the socioeconomic development of the world. Moreover, some specialists (Fleming, 2000) warn about the threat of the growing social tension and even military conflicts which may be provoked by the food shortage, which, in its turn, may be the direct effect of global warming.
In this respect, the health care system cannot remain unaffected by climate change. However, today, the national health care system of Australia is not prepared to overcome possible negative effects of climate change. Along with different natural disasters, new disease and health problems can arise on an unprecedented scale. In this respect, the rise of death rates provoked by heatwaves, the emergence of mosquito-borne disease and numerous psychological problems are a few problems to name. In such a situation, the national health care system cannot solve all the challenges it can face under the impact of climate change. The assistance of the government, legislators and other emergency services is needed in order to prevent natural disasters, minimize their negative effects, improve the lifestyle of people making it more health-oriented, minimize the risk of socio-economic problems and increase awareness of the population of real risks and threats they can face. The complex policy change can decrease the negative impact of climate change on the national health care system and national health.