Research published in the Lancet Journal today has shown that climate change is already having a huge detrimental impact on public health.
The new research comes as countries prepare for the start of the UN climate conference in Bonn on 6 November.
The findings show that climate change is nothing short of a threat to the “continuing survival of human societies”.
The researchers specifically point the finger at the damage to health caused by air pollution from fossil fuel burning, damage to crops from extreme weather, and heatwaves and global warming that increase the transmission of deadly diseases.
The sobering report is the work of researchers from 26 institutions around the world, including universities, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Speaking to the Guardian, Prof Anthony Costello from the World Health Organization said:
“Climate change is happening and it’s a health issue today for millions worldwide. The outlook is challenging, but we still have an opportunity to turn a looming medical emergency into the most significant advance for public health this century.”
The study specifically says that the solution to long-term control of pollution is to “move away from the prevalent resource-intensive, and inherently wasteful, linear take-make-use-dispose economic paradigm, towards a new paradigm rooted in the concept of the circular economy”.
A previous study published in the Lancet earlier in October revealed that pollution kills at least nine million people – triple the number of deaths from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined – and costs trillions of dollars every year. Today’s study shows that 800,000 of these deaths are as a result of coal burning alone.