Global heat-related mortality might increase by 370% if prompt action is not taken to mitigate the consequences of global warming, according to a new study published in the prestigious medical magazine The Lancet.
The study, The Lancet Countdown, brings together insights from 114 scientists and health practitioners across 52 research institutions and U.N. agencies worldwide, emphasizing the urgent need for comprehensive climate action.
The eighth iteration of The Lancet Countdown focuses on the escalating health threats of climate change, notably the surge in life-threatening temperatures.
Suppose average global temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as anticipated without significant intervention. In that case, an additional 524.9 million people are expected to face food insecurity, amplifying the global risk of malnutrition.
Study Warns of Rising Global Heat Deaths Without Climate Action
The study identifies four main risk areas associated with climate change: rising temperatures endangering health, extreme weather events leading to food insecurity, increased pressure on healthcare systems, and a rise in the transmission of life-threatening diseases.
The report emphasizes that human-induced climate change intensifies the frequency of health-threatening temperatures, especially in the United States.
The Lancet Countdown report stresses the critical need for swift and substantial climate action, highlighting that further delays could jeopardize the health and survival of billions.
Dr. Renee Salas, an emergency medicine physician and senior author of the study, asserts that every heat-related death is preventable and underscores the health sector’s responsibility to protect vulnerable populations.
The report underscores the significant risks faced by specific populations in the US, where heat-related deaths for adults aged 65 and older have surged by 88% between 2018-2022 compared to 2000-04.
Infants are identified as particularly vulnerable during heat waves due to their inability to communicate discomfort.
The study highlights the increased risk of life-threatening virus transmission, such as malaria, as global temperatures rise. The ability of mosquitoes and ticks to thrive in new areas each year amplifies the threat of diseases in regions previously unaffected.
The report also offers near-term solutions, emphasizing the link between air pollution and health issues. Urging a shift away from fossil fuels, the study notes that nearly half of US deaths from air pollution are attributed to burning fossil fuels.
Dr. Salas emphasizes the tangible, immediate benefits of addressing air pollution, offering a health prescription that can be filled and witnessed.
The Lancet Countdown’s latest report serves as a dire reminder of the urgent need for global cooperation to combat climate change.
With rising health-threatening temperatures and risks to food security and disease transmission escalating, the study underlines the immediate actions required to protect human health, prevent avoidable deaths, and ensure a sustainable future for all.