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The editors of more than 230 medical journals said in a statement on Monday that human health is being harmed by climate change, and that the effects could become catastrophic if governments don’t do more to address it. The unprecedented joint editorial cites climate change’s proven links to “heat deaths, dehydration and kidney function loss, skin cancer, tropical infections, mental health issues, pregnancy complications, allergies, and heart and lung disease.”
Why This Matters: Human health is already suffering the consequences of climate change across the globe, and notably, to the disproportionate detriment of low-income communities and people of color.
Wildfire smoke has been linked to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases and more severe cases.
Additionally, as humans collide with wildlife over habitat destruction and deforestation, zoonotic diseases will only increase. As global temperatures rise, health threats will become more common and more widespread, and the world is running out of time to save lives.
Health and Human Impact
“Health is already being harmed by global temperature increases and the destruction of the natural world, a state of affairs health professionals have been bringing attention to for decades,” reads the editorial. It also states that if global average temperature rise reaches 1.5 degrees Celsius, “catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse.” The editors expressed that the methods currently used by governments around the globe aren’t enough to reach net zero by 2050, and in some cases, aren’t proven to reduce emissions.
The editorial comes as the COP26 conference in Glasgow quickly approaches, where delegates from more than 200 countries will gather for climate talks. Though many environmental activists recently called for the conference to be postponed, citing threats to both health and equity — this coalition of medical experts is urging world leaders to make commitments and take even more significant action before the year is up. “We, as editors of health journals, call for governments and other leaders to act, marking 2021 as the year that the world finally changes course.”
The United States recently announced the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity within the Department of Health and Human Services. The department aims to treat climate change as a public health issue and build climate resiliency and equity into hospitals and healthcare. The office hopes to address climate-related health issues facing the most impacted communities.
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer This week, the medical journal Lancet published their annual report on health in relation to climate change, subtitling it: “code red for a healthy future.” The report delves beyond the obvious effects of wildfires, hurricanes, and extreme weather events — looking at food security; livelihoods; human physical and mental […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The EPA announced Monday that it will move toward regulating perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — manmade “forever chemicals” — that don’t naturally break down and can contaminate both air and water. These chemicals, found in various household products, from dental floss to nonstick pans, can also be harmful […]
The editors of over 230 medical journals said in a statement on Monday that climate change is a health issue and that its effects could become “catastrophic” if world leaders don’t do more to address it. The health impacts of climate change include wildfire smoke–which has been linked to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases–and pollutants […]
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