Climate Change and increasing global emissions is responsible for huge changes in global health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that air pollution alone kills an estimated 7 million people/year.
Extreme climate changes are the most obvious with respect to health, with flooding, drought and storms all leading to loss of life. Heatwaves can also be dangerous with fatalities highest amongst the young and the over 65s. These acute changes look as though they are going to get worse unless we set about reducing carbon emissions and reversing the damage to the air and to the environment.
Less direct effects of global warming and pollution on health include: Changing our ecosystem; changing land use for more intensive or damaging purposes; decreasing crop yields; damaging water sustainability and affecting its quality; and increasing pollution especially air pollution. Increasing asthma rates have been shown to have been partially caused by air pollution and particulate emissions aggravating lung tissue. Decreasing crop yields can lead to under-nutrition and malnutrition, especially affecting children who suffer the worst consequences of malnutrition due to their need for specific food types to stimulate growth. Reducing the rise in global temperatures could have a significant impact in preventing future lives being lost.
Tacking climate change ‘could be the biggest global health opportunity of this century’ says the Climate Health Commission (CHC) launched by the Lancet Journal to investigate the effects of climate change on health. The health advantages of fighting climate change could help us deal with the current epidemic we are facing in heart and respiratory (cardiothoracic) disease. We should make the most of tacking this crisis with the positive benefits, before we cause irreparable damage to the environment and the lives of future citizens of the earth.