Climate change describes the complex shifts currently affecting our world’s weather and climate systems.
“Climate change encompasses not only rising average temperatures but also extreme weather events, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, rising seas, and a range of other impacts. All of those changes are emerging as humans continue to add heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, changing the rhythms of climate that all living things have come to rely on.”
-The National Geographic
With the current atmospheric levels of heat-trapping substances like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide higher than ever recorded in the last 800,000 years, scientists have documented several impacts on the world around us:
● Melting ice
● Rising sea levels
● More extreme weather conditions
● Higher temperatures affecting wildlife and their habitats
● Animal migration to cooler areas
● Increased precipitation in many areas across the globe
● Severe drought in other areas resulting in wildfires, loss of crops, and drinking water shortages
● Some invasive species are thriving, like the bark beetles that feed on spruce and pine trees, leaving millions of forest acres devastated in the U.S.
Climate Change and Air Quality
The damaging effects on our outdoor environment are plentiful and obvious. Less recognized, or talked about, are the hazardous effects to our indoor air quality due to this rapid rise in greenhouse gases.
The latest scientific findings on the effects of climate change on indoor air and public health are divided into two major categories. These changes in Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) and Health are due to:
Changes in the Outdoor Environment:
● Heat stress and deaths caused by heat waves
● Dampness and mold caused by severe storms and flooding
● Exposure to gaseous air pollutants due to wildfires
● Increase in humidity and dust mite allergies
● Indoor exposure to outdoor ozone resulting in respiratory health issues
● Longer pollen season due to warmer temperatures
Adaptations To and Mitigation Of Climate Change:
● Positive and negative impacts from increased use of air conditioning
● Positive and negative impacts from changes in building design and energy efficiency measures
● Introducing low biomass stoves, which consume much less energy than traditional stoves
For more information on Indoor Air Quality and how it’s impacted by climate change, refer to Aprilaire’s resources on Healthy Air.