Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Climate Change has Potentially Catastrophic Health Impacts

A new study reiterates the fact that the health impacts of climate change are being felt today and it warns that they could soon become potentially "catastrophic" in the near future. Climate change makes us sick both physically and mentally.

Over the last half century we have seen dramatic improvements in public health, however these gains will be undone if we do not curtail climate change. A major study finds that climate change is a bigger health threat than is currently understood. The study also suggests that addressing climate change affords an unprecedented opportunity to improve it.

More than 40 researchers contributed to the Lancet Commission report on climate change and health. It was published recently in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet. Many of these researchers hail from China where environmental health issues have become a serious social and consequently political concern.

This is hardly the first time climate change has been singled out as a health threat. As revealed in this infographic, climate change has long been regarded as a health threat.

In 2014, US President Barack Obama told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, "I think we've always known -- or at least in the 20th century we've understood -- that environment has an impact on public health."

A study by the American Thoracic Society that found seven out of 10 doctors reported climate change is contributing to more health problems among their patients.

The threats in the most recent study were divided into direct which includes heat stress, floods, drought, extreme weather and indirect including air pollution, disease, food insecurity, under-nutrition, displacement and mental health.

A 2014 World Health Organization (WHO) Report Reiterates the Fact that Air Pollution Causes both Climate Change and Disease
. WHO predicted that between 2030 and 2050 climate change will cause a quarter million deaths from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat.

As explained by Dr. Maria Neira, director of the WHO's public health and environment department, "Around the world, variations in climate are affecting, in profoundly diverse ways, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink...We are losing our capacity to sustain human life in good health."

She says that in 2012 alone pollutants killed more than 7 million people representing more than one in eight deaths worldwide. Food insecurity which is directly related to decreased agricultural yields associated with climate change has direct health implications. Under-nutrition kills 3 million people each year and flooding related to climate change increases the incidence of insect born diseases."

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