Work, travel, love, food, life….everything in the world depends on one thing…the health of our planet. Anyone noticed even Glasgow had a heatwave this year? Taps aff was probably a regular hashtag. But enjoying the weather is one thing…what does the continuing change mean for Planet Earth?
The climate is changing. Why is this an issue? Well your health, my health, your children’s health are all being affected from deadly heatwaves in Europe to rising dengue fever in the tropics. The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change was produced by 150 experts in the field including experts from the World Health Organisation and the World Bank.
The WHO director-general stated, “We cannot delay action on climate change, as the findings are clear and the stakes could not be higher.” The rapid changing climate has dire implications for EVERY aspect of human life, exposing vulnerable populations to extremes of weather, altering patterns of infectious disease, compromising food security, drinking water and clean air, states the report. The report goes on to state the lack of progress threatens both human lives and the viability of the national health systems they depend on, with the potential to overwhelm health services. I mean Brexit is important, but how important if life on Planet Earth ceases to exist? MPs in the UK stated in July that the UK was “woefully unprepared” for heatwaves. This was subsequently linked to hundreds of premature deaths in the UK alone. The Lancet report says populations in Europe and eastern Mediterranean are at a HIGHER RISK than those in Africa and South-East Asia because of the high proportion of vulnerable and elderly people living in cities. Hot conditions directly damage health via heatstroke, but dehydration and exacerbation of conditions such as heart disease are also very dangerous. Heat also worsens air pollution and mental health problems.
The World Meteorological Organization warned that, on current trends, warming could reach 3C to 5C by the end of this century. Every fraction of a degree of warming makes a difference to human health and access to food and fresh water, to the extinction of animals and plants, to the survival of coral reefs and marine life. Greenhouse gases are at record levels.
There are wildfires in Greece, Canada and California. Floods devastate Kerala and displace people from their homes. Japan and east Africa have experienced flooding. They say low lying islands and coastal communities may disappear. Food security and water supplies will be at risk. If we do not do something about the climate now; our today is at risk not the future. An IPCC report showed that we still have some hope. We have 12 years to move the needle. Everything that every individual does can help.
Tune in next week for what the causes of climate change are and how we can change now together.
Blog by Neha Sood, Solicitor