Climate Change Threatens to Spread Viruses Through an Unprepared World
Climate change is creating ideal conditions for infectious-disease transmission and the world’s health-care systems aren’t ready for the shock it will cause, according to a new study.
According to the Lancet, decades worth of efforts to fight age-old ailments like dengue fever and malaria are at risk if leaders don’t make ambitious climate plans. The medical journal’s sixth annual report, named The Lancet Countdown Tracks 44 indicators that directly link to climate change, and highlights the worsening of social inequalities.
The study of 38 universities and United Nations agencies was based on research by British medical journal. It found that countries with developed economies are most at risk for viral epidemics. Cooler areas are at greater risk for malaria, and coasts in the USA and northern Europe are increasingly susceptible to bacteria that can cause gastroenteritis.
600 million people still live at a height of less than five meters (16 feet) above the sea level. They are vulnerable to flooding and extreme storms. The report suggests that many people could need to move permanently.
“These are grim warnings that for every day that we delay our response to climate change, the situation gets more critical,” warned Maria Romanello, a research director and lead author of the report. “It’s time to realize that no one is safe from the effects of climate change.”
The report found that less than half the 91 countries included in the study had a national climate and health plan. This leaves their healthcare systems vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Only eight of the 45 countries with strategies had funds allocated to address the problems identified in the assessments.
Covid-19 caused nearly 5,000,000 deaths and brought economies to their knees. In an attempt to restart their economies, countries have been loosening economic controls. Many are now struggling to manage a rebound in infections. The problem is further exacerbated by a uneven distribution of vaccines across developed and low-income nations.
Similar inequalities were found in global climate response. The report showed that countries with less developed economies are more responsible for increasing their emissions, and they are also the least likely to be lagging behind in decarbonization efforts. Global warming will adversely affect these nations as rising temperatures and droughts could threaten water security. This issue impacted 2 billion people worldwide in 2019.
According to 69%, financing is the biggest obstacle to providing resources. But with nations injecting trillions of dollars to restart their economies in the midst of the pandemic, the report urged policymakers to “move beyond rhetoric and take action” at a UN conference in Glasgow that starts at the end of the month, where world leaders, executives and climate activists will hammer out plans to cut carbon emissions.
Also, the study warned against an oil-based economic recovery, which funds coal, oil and gas production while limiting support for clean energy. The report recommended that nations create jobs for green workers and protect health.
“Climate change is here and we’re already seeing it damaging human health across the world,” said Anthony Costello, executive director of the Lancet Countdown. “The recovery from Covid-19 can be a green recovery that puts us on the path of improving human health and reducing inequalities, or it can be a business-as-usual recovery that puts us all at risk.”