Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Climate Crisis and Its Deleterious Impact on Human Health

The World Health Organization director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, had warned in November that climate breakdown was already a health crisis. 

“We cannot delay action on climate change”, he said. “We cannot sleepwalk through this health emergency any longer”. 

In December, a WHO report said tackling the climate crisis would save at least a million lives a year, making it a moral imperative to act. 

And now, an EASAC (European Academies’ Science Advisory Council) report, The Imperative of Climate Action to Protect Human Health in Europe, by experts from 27 national science academies, has given an assessment of the scientific evidence of the deleterious effects of global heating on health. 

Scorching heatwaves and floods will claim not only more victims as extreme weather increases but there are serious indirect effects too. 

The report anticipates the spread of infectious diseases in Europe as temperatures rise and increase the range of mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever and ticks that cause Lyme disease. 

Food poisoning could also rise, as salmonella bacteria thrived in warmer conditions, the report said. It even found research suggesting antibiotic resistance in E coli increases in hotter conditions. 

“There are impacts occurring now [and], over the coming century, climate change has to be ranked as one of the most serious threats to health”, said Prof Sir Andrew Haines, a co-chair of the EASAC and professor of environmental change and public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 

“We think reframing climate change as a health issue can help to engage the public because most people are not just concerned about their own health, but about the health of their nearest and dearest and their descendants. We think this is a way of mobilising the public and raising concern in a constructive way and increasing the momentum for change”.

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