You may live in Ohio, far from the rising seas. You may live in Canada, nowhere near a blazing desert. You may think that climate change is not your problem, at least not yet. But maybe today we can change your mind.
The Medical Journal The Lancet has just published its annual report on climate change and human health. Work of over 100 experts – doctors, climatologists, economists, etc. – the massive study looks at 41 indicators, including extreme climatic conditions such as drought, energy trends such as fuel use and agricultural impacts as changing farming conditions.
The collective consequences are ugly: A child born today, the authors note, can live in a world that is four degrees warmer than in pre-industrial times," We have no idea what it looks like from a public health standpoint, but we know it's catastrophic, "said Nick Watts, CEO of Lancet Countdown: Monitoring Health Progress and Climate Change, during a press conference announcing the findings. "We know that it has the potential to undermine the last 50 years of gains in public health and to overwhelm the health systems we rely on."
It is not too late to reverse some of these trends or avoid the worst outcomes. "The challenge we face now is how to do it in person – how to get people to understand that it's about them and they can do something," said former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, now director of the Climate Center , health and global development Harvard Environment. "I want them to know that climate change is not a lost cause. I want them to know that they may require policymakers to take concrete actions that will not only reduce the threat of climate change, but will be opportunities for clear and immediate investment in public health today. "
Understand the problem and we can better see the solutions Below are 9 key graphs from the new Lancet report that best captures the crisis and what it means for the collective health of humanity.
Climate change makes the heat waves more extreme. This is especially evident in Europe, where many countries set temperature records last summer. These events are especially dangerous for the elderly, who often live alone in apartments that until recently did not need air conditioning but now easily overheat. The "heat emission event" in this chart is a heatwave experienced by one person over 65 years. In 2018, there were 220 million heatwave exposures worldwide, breaking the previous record of 209 million in 2015.