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Threat to health from climate change worsening, says global report

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Thursday, November 16, 2023 - 4:49pm

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The Lancet

The eighth annual report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change has been released ahead of the upcoming UN Climate Change conference in Dubai, aka the 28th UN Conference of the Parties (COP28).

The authors (114 experts from 52 research institutions and UN agencies around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Meteorological Organization) say all indicators are pointing in the wrong direction.

Even as the globe prepares to blow past the recommended 1.5 C limit (on track for 2.7 C of heating by 2100), governments, companies and banks are boosting investments in oil and gas.

The likely result, says the report, will be a 4.7-fold rise in heat-related deaths by mid-century.

Meanwhile, in 2022, the average person experienced 86 days of health-threatening heat, and 2023 saw heat records broken on every continent.

Changing weather patterns and warming seas are also hastening the spread of infectious diseases and of bacteria linked to diarrhea, wound infections and sepsis.

The combined consequences are overwhelming the health system of more than a quarter of cities surveyed.

Rising heat is also worsening food insecurity. The report says more frequent heatwaves and droughts were responsible for 127 million more people facing moderate to severe food insecurity in 2021 than in the years between 1981 and 2010. That number is projected to rise by 525 million by 2041-2060.

Science Sustainability Climate Change