In addition to changing the ecology of the planet and impacting wildlife, climate change and associated extreme weather is starting to impact our basic ability as humans to live and work, according Countdown, a comprehensive report published Wednesday in the medical journal The Lancet.
According to more recent data provided by the Lancet Countdown, which tracks the change in exposure as compared to a 1986-2008 baseline, there has been a marked increase both in the number of vulnerable people over 65 years of age exposed to heatwaves as well in the duration of the heatwaves in the last two decades. In Africa, 38% are thought to be vulnerable, while in Asia it is 34%. "At a time when national health budgets and health services face a growing epidemic of lifestyle diseases, continued delay in unlocking the potential health benefits of climate change mitigation is shortsighted and damaging for human health".
Leading doctors, academics and policy professionals from 27 organizations have contributed analysis and jointly authored the report. The report also states, "Relatedly, there has been an absence of political engagement with health and climate change in Australia in the same period". A new and important finding this year was the global attribution of deaths to source.
They said healthcare spending to adapt to climate change increased by 3.1 per cent to Dollars 14.9 billion globally, which falls well short of the commitments made in the 2015 Paris accord. While coal should be a key target for early phase-out in households and electricity generation as it is highly polluting, it is not all that should be done. The main problems faced include those as a result of air pollution and global warming. This is what we typically do with the regional and local GAINS model: "giving advice to policymakers on the most efficient approaches to tackle air pollution in their specific settings", says Kiesewetter.
Using their varied health and climate metrics, the Lancet study authors said they had detected 18 million more at-risk people exposed to risky levels of heat than just two years ago. The analysis shows that 75,000 million hours of labour was lost in 2017 as compared to 43,000 hours in 2000 due to heat exposure. China alone lost 21bn hours, the equivalent of a year's work for 1.4% of their working population.
Wildfires, similarly, hurt and uproot people, but also dramatically worsen air pollution in broad areas.
Following release of The Lancet report, the Global Climate and Health Alliance, an worldwide coalition of health and development organizations, called on world leaders to take the actions required to limit global warming to the targets set by the Paris climate change agreement, which President Trump withdrew from past year.
Rising temperatures and unseasonable warmth is responsible for cholera and dengue fever spreading, with vectorial capacity for their transmission increasing across many endemic areas.
Heat rising above physiological limits made sustained work more hard or impossible, the authors said.
Aside from the environmental and economic effects, the global population should expect a series of interconnected health risks if the emission of excess greenhouse gases is not controlled.