threegenerationsleft

human activity and the destruction of the planet


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The Effects of Climate Change on Human Health

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.

http://thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/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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UK Government’s plan to ban new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040

Whilst this sounds like an overdue move forward in meeting the Paris agreement emissions targets and dealing with severe air pollution, it is actually very disappointing. 2040 is actually 23 years away and we need action now.

Friends of the Earth have responded to the news by focusing on air pollution issues, as follows:  https://www.foe.co.uk/clean-air/latest-air-quality-plan?utm_source=Friends+of+the+Earth+Communications&utm_campaign=c2384c14be-LM1707024&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_383af65c6b-c2384c14be-22499637

“The government’s plans to clean up our dirty air are simply not good enough.

Its much anticipated Air Quality Plan has now been published. But it doesn’t do enough to tackle toxic air pollution and save lives now.

What’s wrong with the plan?

There’s a big announcement – banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 – but this isn’t a plan to end illegal air pollution now, or even anytime soon.

It’s a cynical move designed to grab headlines. Everyone knows what’s needed to give us breathable air:

  • Clean Air Zones areas in which the most polluting vehicles are charged to enter.
  • A diesel scrappage scheme to help drivers switch away from the most polluting vehicles.
  • A levy on the manufacturers who cheated emissions tests to pay for it.

Instead of this the government is passing the buck to local authorities. And as a result people will continue to have their lives cut short because of air pollution.

All in all it’s a cynical move by the government to grab the headlines by announcing changes for 23 years’ time and failing to take serious action now.”

My own perspective on this is to ask the question, “Why has it taken so long for the UK car industry to produce affordable electric and hybrid vehicles?”  We have known about this issue for years now and yet the car manufacturers have continued producing petrol and diesel vehicles, some of them high performance, as if they were safe for the environment.  And my other question is about the infrastructure needed to support the use of electric vehicles. Many British citizens would happily move to electric vehicles if they knew how to easily charge them up – and plan for long journeys.

Ride_and_Drive_EVs_Plug'n_Drive_Ontario

More access to charging facilities is needed plus quicker charging processes

Yet, car sales continue to rise and, whilst there are more hybrid and electric vehicles being sold in the UK, this is peanuts compared with the greater increases in the sales of petrol and diesel vehicles.  The figures below from 2014, published in chapter 2 (p.46) of my book confirm this.

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The actual numbers for the UK in 2014 were:

Petrol fuelled vehicles new registrations             1,184,409               47.8%

Diesel fuelled vehicles new registrations             1,240,287                50.1%

Alternative fuel vehicles new registrations               51,739                  2.1%

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Other European countries, such as Norway, are doing far better than this and others are imposing bans on the sale of new petrol vehicles far sooner than the UK is (eg Netherlands by 2025).  Why are we being so slow about it?  Is it that business interests take priority over the environment?

Top_PEV_global_markets_stock_Dec_2016

Source: Wikipedia

My other questions is: what about used vehicles?  Are they to be banned from UK roads after 2040 or is it just new vehicles which will be affected?

The measures clearly don’t go far enough.