Climate change is seriously threatening human health

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“Climate change is already contributing to the burden of disease and premature mortality. Without prompt and effective action, the problems are forecast to worsen considerably,” the council said in a report.

This report adds weight to existing research that shows we are living in a time when climate change is impacting human health.

According to EASAC, climate change’s effects include:

  • Worsening mental health: Warmer temperatures, wildfires and air pollution are triggering post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, substance abuse and depression.
  • Increasing physical diseases: Even a small rise in temperature can cause health problems such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
  • Spreading mosquito-borne diseases: The distribution of the Aedes Albopictus mosquito, which carries dengue fever, is expanding across Europe due to changing temperatures.
Read more: What is climate change? Your questions answered
UN climate scientists have warned that the world only has until 2030 to stem catastrophic levels of global warming, when temperatures are projected to reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

If global temperatures reach this threshold, an estimated 350 million people worldwide would be exposed to extreme heat stress sufficient to greatly reduce their labor productivity during the hottest months of the year, according to EASAC.

Read more: Climate anxiety is real, but there is something you can do about it
In November, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared climate change a “health emergency” after a report by The Lancet warned that “a rapidly changing climate has dire implications for every aspect of human life.”
Tackling climate change could save millions of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars by mid-century, according to a WHO report published in December.

EASAC came to a similar conclusion.

“Several hundred thousand premature deaths annually in the EU could be averted by a zero-carbon economy through reduced air pollution,” according to Dr Robin Fears, program director of EASAC Biosciences.

CO2 levels at highest for 3 million years -- when seas were 20 meters higher

Fears said governments’ top priority should be to curb greenhouse gas emissions and reduce fossil fuel combustion.

Another effective solution is for governments to “promote healthier, more sustainable diets which will lower agriculture’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions,” he added.

Last month, climate experts urged the UK government to slash greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. If adopted, the target would be the most ambitious emissions reduction goal set by any large economy.

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