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30-Sep-2022
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 Climate change :  World must triple efforts 

 

       People’s health is being damaged today by climate change through effects ranging from deadly heat waves to rising dengue fever in the tropics, according to a report.

Billions of hours of farm work has been lost during high temperatures and global warming has damaged agriculture.

The Lancet Count down on Health and Climate Change was produced by 150 experts from 27 universities and institutions including the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

 “The findings are clear and the stakes could not be higher,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general. “We cannot delay action on climate change. We cannot  

sleepwalk through this health emergency any longer.”

The report sets out the impacts of global warming on health in stark terms. ”A rapidly changing climate has dire implications for every aspect of human life, exposing vulnerable populations to extremes of weather, altering patterns of infectious disease, and compromising food security, safe drinking water and clean air,” it said.

Nick Watt, the executive director of the Lancet Countdown, said: “These are not things happening in 2050 but are things we are already seeing today. The UN said action to cut carbon emissions must be tripled to avoid catastrophic warming. The report said the lack of progress “threatens both human lives and the viability of the 

health systems they depend on, with the potential to overwhelm health services”.

A survey of almost 500 global cities found half expected their public health infrastructure to be seriously compromised by climate change, meaning systemic failures such as the shutdown of hospitals.

Recent heatwave in Europe was linked to hundreds of premature deaths in the UK alone.  MPs sain in July  that the UK was "woefully unprepared" for heatwaves.

The Lancet report says populations in Europe and the eastern Mediteranean

are at higher risk than those in Africa and south-east Asia because of the high proportion of vulnerable and elderly people living in cities.

Increases in heat and heatwaves pose a serious threat to health and labor productivity Heat worsens air pollution and mental health problems.

As temperatures rise across the world, the report says 157 million more vulnerable people were subjected to a heatwave in 2017 than in 2000. Hot conditions directly damage health via heatstroke, conditions such as heart disease are also very dangerous. Prof Kristie Ebi, of the University of Washington, said: “Increased mortality in extreme heatwaves is happening. Communities are not prepared for the ongoing increases in the frequency,   

intensity and duration of heatwaves.”

153bn hours of work were lost in 2017 due to extreme heat, 80% of it in agriculture. Almost half the losses were in India, equivalent to 7% of its total working population, while China lost the equivalent of 1.4% of its workers. “This has led to vast losses for economies and household budgets,” said Prof Joacim Rocklöv of Umeå University in Sweden.

Relatively small changes in  temperatures and rainfall could cause large changes in the transmission of infectious diseases spread via water and mosquitoes. The ability of the dengue fever virus to be transmitted reached a record high in 2016, according to the report. The danger from cholera risk was also rising in regions such as the Baltic states where the sea has been warming rapidly.

"It is clear that climate change is directly impacting our health," said Howard Frumkin, head of the Wellcome Trust.  "All sectors must prioritise action on climate change affecting generations to come."

Prof Paul Ekins, of University College London, said the health benefits of tackling climate change had long been undervalued, with just 5% of funding for adaptation to global warming being spent on health. The Lancet report noted some promising trends, such as the phase-out of coal and the 

growth of electric cars.

“Health is what people feel. It makes a direct connection with their lives and the lives of people they care about like their children and grandchildren.”The 2018 report comes at a crucial time for international cooperation and action on climate change, the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and the health benefits that result.

 

By divesting from the fossil fuel industry and investing in innovative solutions that will improve health now and for future generations Transitioning to Renewable Clean Energy Hospitals can lead  efforts to transform the energy system. Increasingly affordable renewable energy sources have created the opportunity for a transition towards solar and wind energy, which results in cleaner air and water.

 

UN secretary general, António Guterres said, “We have more and more nationalist approaches being popular and winning elections, This has led to a lack of political will.”

 

UN climate  summit warning that today’s generation is the last that can prevent catastrophic global warming, as well as the first to be suffering its impacts.