| 2.6°C Dublin

‘Wrong direction’: Health problems linked to climate change are worsening

Close

A Pacific Northwest and Canadian heat wave hit this summer, which a previous study showed could not have happened without human-caused climate change.

A Pacific Northwest and Canadian heat wave hit this summer, which a previous study showed could not have happened without human-caused climate change.

A Pacific Northwest and Canadian heat wave hit this summer, which a previous study showed could not have happened without human-caused climate change.

Health problems tied to climate change are all getting worse, according to two new reports.

The annual reports commissioned by the medical journal Lancet tracked 44 global health indicators connected to climate change, including heat deaths, infectious diseases and hunger.

All of them are getting grimmer, said Lancet Countdown project research director Marina Romanello.

“Rising temperatures are having consequences,” said University of Washington environmental health professor Kristie Ebi, a report co-author.

This year’s reports  one global, one just aimed at the United States  called “code red for a healthy future,” highlight dangerous trends.

Vulnerable populations  older people and the very young  were subject to more time with dangerous heat last year. For people over 65, the researchers calculated there were 3 billion more “person-day” exposures to extreme heat than the average from 1986 to 2005.

More people were in places where climate-sensitive diseases can flourish. Coastline areas warm enough for the Vibrio bacteria increased in the Baltics, the US Northeast and the Pacific Northwest in the past decade. In some poorer nations, the season for malaria-spreading mosquitoes has expanded since the 1950s.

“Code Red is not even a hot enough colour for this report,” said Stanford University tropical medicine professor Dr Michele Barry. Compared to the last Lancet report, “this one is the sobering realisation that we’re going completely in the wrong direction”.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

An unprecedented Pacific Northwest and Canadian heat wave hit this summer, which a previous study showed could not have happened without human-caused climate change.

Study co-author Dr Jeremy Hess, a professor of environmental health and emergency medicine, said he witnessed the impacts of climate change while working at Seattle emergency rooms during the heat.

 “I saw paramedics who had burns on their knees from kneeling down to care for patients with heat stroke,” he said.

The report said 65 of the 84 countries included subsidise the burning of fossil fuels, which cause climate change. Doing that “feels like caring for the desperately ill patient while somebody is handing them lit cigarettes and junk food,” said Dr Richard Jackson, a UCLA public health professor.


Most Watched





Privacy