The Lancet has published a warning that rising temperatures will worsen heat and respiratory illness, and spread infectious disease. According to the Washington Post, “Climate change is set to become the ‘defining narrative of human health,’ a top medical journal warned Wednesday — triggering food shortages, deadly disasters and disease outbreaks that would dwarf the toll of the coronavirus. But aggressive efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions from human activities could avert millions of unnecessary deaths, according to the analysis from more than 100 doctors and health experts.
In its annual ‘Countdown on health and climate change,’ the Lancet provides a sobering assessment of the dangers posed by a warming planet. More than a dozen measures of humanity’s exposure to health-threatening weather extremes have climbed since last year’s report.
‘Humanity faces a crucial turning point,’ the doctors say, with nations poised to spend trillions of dollars on economic recovery from the pandemic and world leaders set to meet in Glasgow for a major U.N. climate conference in less than two weeks. The United States is working to assemble a set of climate policies to help coax bigger commitments from other top emitters at that conference, even as the Biden administration is scaling back its climate legislation, given opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), who represents a coal-producing state.
Rising temperatures have led to higher rates of heat illness, causing farmworkers to collapse in fields and elderly people to die in their apartments. Insects carrying tropical diseases have multiplied and spread toward the poles. The amount of plant pollen in the air is increasing, worsening asthma and other respiratory conditions. Extreme floods and catastrophic storms have boosted the risk of cholera and other waterborne diseases. Smoke from fires in California infiltrates the lungs and then the bloodstreams of people as far away as Texas, Ohio and New York. Droughts intensify, crops fail, hunger stalks millions of the world’s most vulnerable people.
‘If nothing else will drive the message home about the present threat that climate change poses to our global society, this should,’ said Lachlan McIver, a Doctors Without Borders physician who was not involved in writing the Lancet report. ‘Your health, my health, the health of our parents and our children are at stake.’
The Lancet study is just the latest salvo from health professionals demanding a swift end to burning fossil fuels and other planet-warming activities. In a special report released last week, the World Health Organization called climate change ’the single biggest health threat facing humanity,’ warning that its effects could be more catastrophic and enduring than the coronavirus pandemic. Dozens of public health experts are headed to the U.N. climate summit starting at the end of the month, aiming to convince world leaders that they must take bolder action to curb their nations’ carbon output.”
In a recent poll of 700+ global Sermo physicians, 71% said they believe reducing greenhouse gas emissions will have a direct health benefit to their patients. And 58% said they agree with the WHO’s statement that climate change is “the single biggest health threat facing humanity.” When asked about which health conditions linked to global warming they have witnessed, here’s how the doctors responded:
- 36% said plant pollen increasing and worsening asthma and other respiratory conditions
- 35% said smoke from fires infiltrating lungs and bloodstreams
- 30% said higher rates of heat illness
- 29% said droughts triggering crop failure and hunger
- 27% said tropical diseases spreading
- 27% said extreme floods boosting risk of cholera and other waterborne diseases
Here’s more of what Sermo physicians have to say on global warming and human health:
It is really worrying that health is at stake due to climate change, little by little the planet is deteriorating and nothing is being done to reverse it.”General Practitioner, Venezuela
Climate change will trigger the advent of old diseases, changes in the environment and the slow death of what lives on earth.General Practitioner, Mexico
My city used to have very pleasant weather and a beautiful blue sky in my childhood , and now it’s too polluted , too warm and many buildings replaced houses and their gardens! Forest fires around my city occur every year, thus there is no time for the trees to recover. Dengue is endemic here, the mosquitos don’t need clean water anymore!Pediatrics, Brazil
There hasn’t been any evidence to show that climate change is “man made”. climate DOES change. but show me the evidence that humans actually “cause” it!
Pulmonology/ Respiratory Medicine, U.S.
Climate change is the most important thing preventing people from accessing healthy food. In addition, natural disasters and the melting of glaciers show us the threats to come.General Practitioner, Turkey
We repair computers but we will not be able to repair ourselves.
Our exploding population is the greatest contributor to climate change.
Obstetrics & Gynecology, Canada
“The economic interests of large corporations are the main problem.General Practitioner, Mexico
“Increase in tick borne illness. Extreme weather leading to inability to access health care .
Geriatric Medicine, US
“With much more credible existential threats ranging from polydrug-resistant microbes to nuclear war, the notion that climate change represents the greatest single threat to humankind is delusion bordering on mass hysteria.
Air pollution as a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, dementia, COPD, lung cancer, with minority communities disproportionately affected.Neurology, U.S.
I strongly agree that climate changes are related to greater health problems in humans. We must raise awareness and love our planet more.General Practitioner, Venezuela
The change in the climate has serious consequences on the health of all patients .. and it is more evident at the respiratory levelGeneral Practitioner, Spain