Climate Change and Global Health (22 November 2022)
Reliance on fossil fuels, according to the Lancet Countdown study on Health and Climate Change: Health at the Mercy of Fossil Fuels, raises the risk of sickness, food poverty, and other heat-related disorders.
What are the Report's Findings?
Climate change impacts health's social and environmental determinants, such as clean air, safe drinking water, enough food, and safe housing.
Heatwave Affected Population:
Fast pace rising temperatures exposed people, particularly vulnerable groups (adults over 65 and children under one), to 3.7 billion more heatwave days in 2021 than in 1986-2005.
- Climate change impacts the transmission of infectious diseases, increasing the danger of new diseases and co-epidemics.
- For example, it shows that coastal waters are becoming more conducive to the spread of Vibrio bacteria.
- The number of months optimal for malaria transmission has grown across the Americas and Africa's highlands.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), climate change is anticipated to cause around 2,50,000 extra deaths per year between 2030 and 2050 due to starvation, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress.
- Climate change has an impact on all aspects of food security.
- Higher temperatures immediately threaten crop production by reducing the growing season for several cereal crops.
- Extreme weather events impact supply systems, jeopardizing food availability, accessibility, stability, and use.
- During the Covid-19 pandemic, the malnutrition rate rose, and up to 161 million more people will be hungry in 2020 than in 2019.
- Russia's invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the problem.
- Many nations have sought alternate fuels to Russian oil and gas due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and some have returned to conventional thermal energy.
- Even if just for a short time, increasing interest in coal might undo advances in air quality and hasten climate change, which threatens human life.
What are the recommendations?
Response to Health Concerns:
- A health-centred solution to the concurrent climate, energy, and cost-of-living crisis offers the possibility of achieving a healthy, low-carbon future.
- Improvements in air quality will aid in preventing mortality caused by exposure to ambient PM2.5 originating from fossil fuels. The emphasis on low-carbon transport and urbanization will encourage physical exercise, benefiting both physical and mental health.
Change to a more balanced and plant-based diet:
- An expedited shift to more plant-based diets would help cut emissions from red meat and milk production, minimize diet-related fatalities, and significantly lower the danger of zoonotic infections.
- This type of health-focused transformation would lower the burden of communicable and noncommunicable illnesses and the load on healthcare professionals, resulting in more resilient healthcare systems.
- To decrease or avoid the vulnerabilities that the globe is otherwise exposed to, global coordination, funding, transparency, and collaboration among governments, communities, civil society, corporations, and public health leaders are essential.