Five facts about climate change and health
There are three main ways in which global warming affects human health:
a) Extreme weather, such as heatwaves, flooding, wildfires, storms and drought, can impact physical and mental health – for example through physical injuries and trauma. Events such as these are expected to increase in number and severity in the future.
b) The Earth’s life support systems will be impacted, including rising sea levels and safe water availability, which can lead to alterations in the patterns of zoonotic and vector-borne disease (including malaria and dengue fever, among others), reduced pollination and crop failure, both of which can lead to food shortages. c) Some social systems can be impacted, leading to problems such as livelihood loss, rising food and fuel prices, supply chain disruption, pressure on health and care services and conflict.
Each year environmental factors lead to 13 million deaths. This makes climate change the largest health threat facing humanity currently.2
At least 90% of people breathe air contaminated with unhealthy levels of pollution, with much of this coming from burning fossil fuels, which are a driving factor of climate change.2
The death rate from climate change is expected to increase by 250,000 additional deaths between 2030 and 2050 from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.3
The direct damage costs to health, which excludes costs in health-determining sectors including agriculture, water and sanitation, is estimated to reach $2-4bn per year by 2030.3
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