eXtreme weather from Climate change Caused starvation of nearly 100 million people and increased heat-related deaths by 68% in vulnerable populations worldwide as the world’s “fossil fuel addiction” worsened Public Health Each year, doctors report in a new study.
The burning of coal, oil, natural gas and biomass worldwide causes air pollution that kills 1.2 million people annually, including 11,800 in the United States, according to a report published Tuesday in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet.
“Our health is at the mercy of fossil fuels,” said University of London health and climate researcher Marina Romanello, executive director of the Lancet Countdown. “We are witnessing an ongoing addiction to fossil fuels that is not only amplifying the health impacts of climate change, but is now exacerbated at this point with other concurrent crises we are facing globally, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the cost of living crisis, the energy crisis and the food crisis that erupted after The war in Ukraine”.
In The Lancet’s annual countdown, which looks at climate change and health, nearly 100 researchers around the world highlight 43 indicators where climate change is making people sicker or weaker, adding new insight into hunger this year.
“The health impacts of climate change are increasing rapidly,” Romanello said.
Read more: How climate change and air pollution affect children’s health
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised the report more frankly than doctors: “The climate crisis is killing us.”
A new analysis in the report blamed 98 million more self-reported cases of hunger worldwide in 2020, compared with 1981-2010, on “days of extreme warming in their frequency and intensity due to climate change”.
Romanillo said researchers studied 103 countries and found that 26.4% of the population experienced what scientists call “food insecurity” and in a simulated world without the effects of climate change it would have been only 22.7%.
“Can I say that every part of food insecurity is caused by climate change? Of course not. But we think it’s in this complex web of causes,” said pediatrician Dr. Anthony Costello, co-chair of Lancet Countdown and head of the Institute for Global Health at University College London. This is a very important factor and it will only get worse.”
Computerized epidemiological models also show an increase in annual heat-related deaths from 187,000 per year from 2000 to 2004 to an annual average of 312,000 per year in the past five years, Romanello said.
Read more: Why Extreme Heat Plus Pollution is a lethal combination
When there’s a heat wave, like the record-breaking 2020 Pacific Northwest or the English heatwave this summer, emergency room doctors know when to go to the hospital, said a study co-author. Dr. Renee Salas, an emergency room physician in Boston and a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Air pollution from burning coal, oil and gas also pollutes the air, causing the deaths of about 1.2 million people annually worldwide from tiny particles in the air, the scientists and report said. Harvard’s Salas said the 1.2 million figure was based on “enormous scientific evidence”.
“Burning gas in cars or coal in power plants has been shown to cause asthma in children and cause heart problems,” Salas said.
“Describing an inhaler will not fix the asthma attack of a boy who lives next to a highway where cars are producing dangerous pollutants and climate change is increasing bushfire smoke, pollen and ozone pollution,” Salas said.
Air pollution and heat-related deaths are bigger problems for the elderly, the very young, and especially the poor, said Natasha Degarnett, a professor of environmental health at the University of Louisville and a co-author on the study.
Sacoby Wilson, a professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland who was not part of the report, said the Lancet study makes sense and frames the effects of climate change on health in a powerful way.
People are dying now as we speak. Drought, desertification, lack of food, floods, tsunamis,” Wilson said. “We see what happened in Pakistan. What you see happening in Nigeria. “
Wilson, emergency room physician and University of Calgary professor of medicine Dr. Courtney Howard, who was not part of the study, said the report’s authors are correct in calling the problem an addiction to fossil fuels, similar to addiction to harmful substances. drugs.
Howard said the Lancet report shows increasing deaths from air pollution and heat, yet people “continue normal behavior despite known harms,” the definition of addiction. “So far our treatment of our addiction to fossil fuels has been ineffective.”
“This is not a rare cancer for which we don’t have a cure,” Salas said. “We know the treatment we need. We just need the willpower from all of us and our leadership to make it happen.”
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