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human activity and the destruction of the planet

The Effects of Climate Change on Human Health

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In Chapter 1 of my book (Our beautiful world in harmony), I provide information on how climate change is affecting human health.  This is mainly taken from a 43-page report, ‘A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change’, written by Prof. Anthony Costello and others in 2010 . A full citation of the source can be found as reference 12 in the list of references given on this website.

Now, a new multi-author report, published in the Lancet, gives further supporting evidence.   It is entitled The Lancet Countdown of Health and Climate Change: from 25 years of inaction to a global transformation on public health.

Click to access PIIS0140-6736(17)32464-9.pdf

The Lancet Countdown tracks progress on health and climate change and provides an independent assessment of the health effects of climate change, the implementation of the Paris Agreement,1 and the health implications of these actions. It follows on from the work of the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, which concluded that anthropogenic climate change threatens to undermine the past 50 years of gains in public health, and conversely, that a comprehensive response to climate change could be “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century”.

This article is available free of charge.

Some of its findings:

  1. Health Effects of Heat Waves

Statistical evidence is provided to show that 125 million more vulnerable people over the age of 65 years were exposed to heatwaves in 2016 compared with 2000.

2. Labour Capacity and Heat stress

“Extreme heat causes heat stress and heat stroke, exacerbations of pre-existing heart failure and kidney disease.”

Global labour capacity of rural labourers, such as farmers, has fallen by 5·3% from 2000 to 2016 due to rising temperatures and the inability to work when it’s too hot.

3. Infectious Diseases

Due to changing climatic conditions in countries where dengue is endemic, the capacity for one of the main mosquitoes (Aedes aegpyti) to transmit dengue fever has increased globally since 1950 by 9·5%.
4. Air Pollution and Public Health

Poor air quality impacts health by increasing rates of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases.

Air pollution from a range of sources contributed to over 1·9 million premature deaths across southeast Asia in 2015.  A graphic in the report provides the numbers of deaths in 21 South East Asian countries, caused by particular polluting sources.

ADAPTATION,PLANNING AND RESILIENCE:

A particularly severe heatwave in the summer of 2003 resulted in more than 70 000 excess deaths across Western Europe. Health systems were unprepared and quickly overwhelmed.

Proven interventions will help prevent loss of life in the future:

  •   Developing clear heatwave and climate change management strategies and establishing early warning systems.
  •  Mapping vulnerable populations and providing cool-down zones.
  •  Simple engineering solutions, such as ensuring adequate ventilation for hospitals and nursing homes.

COAL PHASE OUT:

Coal is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions of all fossil fuels, causing severe air pollution and affecting human health. While coal use increased globally since 1990, it appears to have peaked in 2013 and is now declining.  A graphic shows this levelling off but also demonstrates that China is still by far the highest user of coal to supply energy.

A growing number of countries have committed to ensuring coal is completely phased out over the next decade:

 

Divestment from fossil fuels

Research on health and climate change
“Science is critical to increasing public and political understanding of the links between climate change and health.
Since 2007, the number of scientific papers on health and climate change has more than trebled.

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