Climate change is a significant threat to human health, but the solution is within reach
Climate change is believed to have a huge impact on health today. However, experts believe it will only get worse if action is not taken soon. The health of vulnerable groups may be at greater risk from both direct impacts such as extreme heat and indirect impacts such as reduced food and nutrition security. Outstanding scientists from around the world work together to collect and analyze relevant data to produce science-based analyzes and recommendations on a global scale. They were brought together by the world’s science academies under the umbrella of the Interacademy Partnership (IAP). The three-year project, involving more than 80 experts from around the world, also looked at a variety of mitigation and adaptation actions that could significantly improve health and health equity.
Researchers believe climate change threatens the health of billions of people, even those who contribute little to climate change. However, there is good news. In the short term, health can be improved through a variety of ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A recent report, Health in a Climate Emergency – A Global Perspective, published by the Interacademy Partnership (IAP), analyzes how climate change is affecting global health and highlights the need for urgent action.
“Billions of people are at risk, so we call for action on climate change for health and to promote health equity,” said Robin Fears, IAP project coordinator and co-author of the IAP report.
In a three-year global project, IAP has worked closely with its regional networks in Africa (NASAC), Asia (AASSA), Americas (IANAS) and Europe (EASAC) to help evaluate evidence from their own regions. diversity can be achieved. Policies for collective and individual action at national, regional and global levels. A team of over 80 scientists from all regions of the world worked on the project.
The latest report analyzes extensive scientific evidence and presents a global overview of current knowledge and examines how climate change and its drivers are acting through a range of direct and indirect pathways, for example:
- Heat-related mortality and morbidity
- Extreme events such as floods and droughts
- Crop yield reduction in some areas
- Changes in the spread of vector-borne diseases
- Wildfires due to widespread exposure to air pollution
In general, a wide range of health outcomes are affected, including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, water and foodborne diseases, malnutrition and mental health. With the associated negative health consequences, the risk of forced migration also increases.
an article published in nature climate change, summarized in the IAP report, shows that, according to an analysis of data from more than 700 sites in 43 countries, a third of heat-related deaths over the past few decades can be attributed to climate change. Additionally, other studies have found that exposure to extreme heat decreases the ability to exert yourself. Lancet Planet Health The paper states that around 1 billion people worldwide will be able to work safely (even in the shade) for part of the year after global temperatures have risen by around 2.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. supposedly incompetent.
Andrew Haynes, Professor of Environmental Change and Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says: “Many policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will benefit health and prevent dangerous climate change in the near future. Reduce the risks.” LSHTM) and co-chair of the IAP project. Haines is the winner of the 2022 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement – often referred to as the “Nobel Prize for the Environment”.
For example, air pollution from particulate matter arises from many sources, similar to emissions of greenhouse gases. Emissions from fossil fuels and biomass are responsible for a significant portion of the total health burden from pollution. According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)Reducing these anthropogenic sources of air pollution is estimated to prevent millions of premature deaths around the world each year.
Climate change is already undermining food and nutrition security and, if left unaddressed, will have greater impacts on malnutrition and deaths. The IAP advises that promoting dietary change — increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables and legumes, and reducing red meat consumption where it is excessive — can have major health and environmental benefits. Such a diet would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food systems, as well as reduce water and land use. In addition, there will be a significant reduction in the burden of non-communicable diseases through reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and other diseases.
Climate protection could also prevent a significant increase in the spread of infectious diseases. For example, a study published in Lancet Planet Health It is estimated that the population at risk of dengue and malaria will increase by an additional 4.7 billion by 2070 compared to 1970–99, particularly in lowland and urban areas (Colón-González et al., 2021). The IAP therefore calls for strengthening surveillance and response systems for communicable diseases, which should be a priority for improving global climate change adaptation.
The IAP report emphasizes that while climate change affects everyone’s health, the burden is not shared equally or equitably.
“Instead, it affects people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and the most marginalized, and is influenced by unifying factors such as health status, social, economic and environmental conditions, and governance structures. The effects of climate change are already there. These only exacerbate the inequalities and injustices faced by vulnerable populations, many of which have their roots in colonialism, racism, discrimination, oppression and development challenges,” says Sherry Harper, associate professor at the University of Alberta, Canada and co-author of the report. .
“We emphasize that health-related adaptation efforts should prioritize indigenous peoples, aging populations, children, women and girls, people living in challenging socioeconomic environments, and geographically vulnerable populations.”
Globally, socially, politically and geographically excluded groups are most at risk of the health impacts of climate change, yet they are underrepresented in the evidence base.
“Therefore, research and policy measures at local, regional and international level should focus on equity,” says Volker ter Meulen, co-chair of the IAP project. “Justice is at the core of effective responses.”
The IAP calls on all stakeholders to take action to build climate health resilience that will limit future risks. The IAP’s very broad geographic coverage is invaluable in communicating the voices of those – from low- and middle-income countries and vulnerable populations – who are not in the processes that feed evidence into international policy always be heard. Hm.
“Investments in climate-resilient infrastructure, health systems and policies will support adaptation and reduce future health risks from climate change,” says Ter Meulen. “A Health in All Policies response will support climate change adaptation and mitigation actions to help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, co-benefits for health and the achievement of key international initiatives such as of the Sustainable Development Goals.” will support.”
The study was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Reference: “Health in a Climate Emergency: A Global Perspective”, 24 May 2022, The Interacademy Partnership.
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