Increasingly Intense Weather Events and Environmental Degradation Jeopardize Global Health
A new report highlights the alarming health risks posed by climate change, emphasizing the urgent need for action. As the world witnesses more frequent and intensified weather and climate events, such as storms, heatwaves, floods, and wildfires, both direct and indirect health impacts are becoming evident. The report emphasizes that climate change affects all aspects of health, including clean air, water, soil, food systems, and livelihoods.
Vulnerable Populations Bear the Brunt
The report further reveals that vulnerable populations, including low-income countries, small island developing states, and marginalized communities within countries, are most susceptible to the health consequences of climate change. Disparities in vulnerability are observed among populations living in poverty, the elderly, women, children, indigenous peoples, outdoor workers, and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Lack of access to safe drinking water, foodborne illnesses, and increased risks of waterborne and foodborne diseases exacerbate the health challenges faced by these communities.
Mental Health Impacts and Looming Threats
Apart from physical health, the report highlights the significant impact of climate change on mental health. Acute conditions such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders can emerge following extreme weather events. Long-term mental health disorders can also develop due to loss of livelihood, displacement, disrupted social cohesion, and uncertainty caused by climate change.
The report underscores the need for immediate action to mitigate the health risks posed by climate change. It estimates that by the end of the century, under a high emissions scenario, over 9 million climate-related deaths could occur annually. Urgent measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen healthcare systems, enhance disaster preparedness, and address environmental degradation are crucial to protect global health.