The Lancet, the leading global health journal, just came out with a searing report on how climate change affects public health. “Climate change is happening, and it’s a health issue today for millions worldwide,” said Anthony Costello, a co-chairman of the commission that produced the report.
Based on research done at 26 universities and intergovernmental organizations around the world, the Lancet report notes that atmospheric CO2 was at an all time high in 2016, reaching a concentration not seen for more than 3 million years, that has caused:
- 306 weather-related disasters per year between 2007 to 2016 – a 46% increase since 2000
- the forced migration of at least 4,400 people
- an estimated 5.3% decrease in work productivity for people doing manual labor from 2000 to 2016 due to increasing temperatures (productivity fell 2% just from 2015 to 2016)
The Lancet’s report is exhaustive, addressing impacts and exposures, mitigation and adaptation, finance and economics, and public and political engagement. And it’s timely too: for the first time in the UNFCCC negotiations, there will be a high-level event on “Health Actions for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement” at COP23, hosted by the Fiji presidency on Sunday, November 12 in the Bonn Zone. As a vulnerable low-lying island state, Fiji’s leaders know climate change’s public health impacts all too well.
As Jeff Nesbit, former director of legislative and public affairs at the National Science Foundation during both the Obama and Bush administrations, observed in his NYT op-ed yesterday entitled Climate Change is Bad for Your Health, “This is now a medical and public health fight, not just an environmental one.”