Climate change will trigger food scarcity, extreme weather disasters, and disease outbreaks far worse than the current pandemic, UK medical journal The Lancet warned Wednesday. Since the last annual volume of its Countdown on health and climate change, threats to human health have grown worse on more than 12 metrics, and without aggressive action to slash greenhouse gas pollution the climate crisis will become the “defining narrative of human health,” the journal said.
Extreme heat is the most deadly impact of climate change, followed by the spread of insect-carried diseases, risks of cholera and waterborne diseases following floods and storms, and respiratory dangers from everything from wildfire smoke to increased pollen in the air, which can exacerbate asthma and other conditions. The Lancet report comes just weeks before COP26, the Countdown is far from the first warning by health professionals about the dangers posed by climate change and the need to rapidly cut methane and CO2 pollution.
“Lowering greenhouse gas emissions is a prescription,” Renee Salas, an emergency medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of the Lancet report and its accompanying policy brief. “The oath I took as a doctor is to protect the health of my patients. Demanding action on climate change is how I can do that.” (Washington Post $, AP, USA Today, WBUR, Boston Globe $, CNN, Grist, Bloomberg Law, Gizmodo, The Guardian, Yahoo, NBC, The Verge)