Climate Change to Cause 'Global Health Catastrophe'


Photo via Jakarta Globe

That's the unfortunate finding by 18 of the world's leading medical organizations. The groups have come together to write a series of articles in top medical journals with a similar message: unless serious progress is made in fighting climate change--for instance, a major international treaty to succeed Kyoto--the world faces a slew of threats: stronger infectious diseases, increased starvation and malnutrition, and more heat-related deaths. Unless serious changes are made, they say, we face a 'global health catastrophe.'The group finds that people in tropical regions face the most danger from climate change, and that the 3 billion additional people the world will have--many who will live in the most impacted areas--must be taken into account.

From the BBC:

the main conclusion was that in a world likely to have three billion new inhabitants by the second half of this century: "Effects of climate change on health will affect most populations in the next decades and put the lives and wellbeing of billions of people at increased risk".
And though the grim possibilities outlined in their study certainly stands out, the doctors make many fine points about the benefits of lowering carbon emissions as well. They note that it will lead to cleaner air, and healthier populations, even if you weren't considering climate change.

Their report states: "A low-carbon economy will mean less pollution. A low carbon-diet (especially eating less meat) and more exercise will mean less cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. "Opportunity, surely, not cost."

I think this is exactly right--it's the point that so many seem to miss when considering the effects of climate change: that by cutting down on emissions and pollution, we're not just staving off an incoming disaster. We're improving the fundamentals of life for everything and everyone involved (except the CEOs of coal companies). And here we have another great point: fighting climate change would result in a healthier population worldwide.

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