Climate change to hit health of Indian children hard: Lancet

Monday, 18 Nov, 2019

Rising temperatures due to climate change and air pollution could undo India's hard-earned public health gains of the last two decades, according to a new study in The Lancet.

What happens if we continue with "business-as-usual?"

The Lancet Countdown is a coalition of 35 establishments together with the World Well being Group and the World Financial institution.

The Lancet medical journal published a study this week saying climate change was already harming people's health by increasing the number of extreme weather events.

The LancelotCountdown on Health and Climate Change is an worldwide analysis of progress by 120 experts from 35 institutions, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank. Wildfire exposures in India were numbered at 21 million in 2018 and heatwave exposures numbered 45 million. This is an increase of 63 million since 2017.

For instance, in 2018, 45 billion hours of labor have been misplaced as a effect of excessive warmth globally in contrast with 2000.

The number of extreme weather events continue to grow, including wildfires.

This year's report also sees health professionals accepting their own responsibility for global warming. Also, she said, smoke will eventually penetrate a home exposed to it for days on end.

As global Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels continue to rise (up 2.6 per cent from 2016-2018), energy supply from coal is increasing (up 1.7 per cent from 2016-2018), reversing a previous downward trend, while premature deaths related to PM2.5 fine particulate matter remain stagnant at 2.9 million worldwide. A child born today will breathe more toxic air than in the past; in fact, more than 90% of children today, and urban residents of over 80% of surveyed cities, were exposed to fine particulate matter concentrations above World Health Organization guidelines.

Researchers note that current infants will bear the greatest burden of malnutrition and rising food prices, as in the past 30 years, the global yield average for maize has fallen four per cent, winter wheat has fallen six per cent, soybean three per cent and rice four per cent.

Yet they're the ones who must deal with the fallout.

It observes that the potential for mosquito-borne diseases is on the rise in Europe, with Malta most acutely affected, followed by Greece, Romania, Spain, Bulgaria, Italy and Croatia.

Children are also threatened by a global rise in infectious diseases, as researchers called 2018 "the second-most climatically suitable year on record for the spread of bacteria that cause much of diarrhoeal disease and wound infection globally".

But taking action to tackle climate change is "sensible" to deliver public health and economic benefits and relieve pressure on the NHS.

A warmer world brings risks of food shortages, infectious diseases, floods and extreme heat.

Wednesday's report does provide a glimmer of hope.

Interested in Climate Change?

"A child born today as they go through their lives they are going to be increasingly exposed to more and more harms that I did not experience", said study co-author Dr. Renee Salas, a Boston emergency room physician and professor at Harvard.

Pictured: Climate strikers in Chicago, IL, USA.

The report imagines a future where the use of coal is stopped as solar and wind energy and other renewable energy sources are used - resulting in cleaner air.

According to the research, an estimated 1,063 Canadians died in 2015 as a result of air pollution from land-based transportation.

"Human health will improve as we pursue pathways to net zero emissions".

"The mitigation and adaptation recommendations in the report are something that I think people should focus attention on, because I want them to know that climate change isn't a lost cause", said former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, who served in the Obama administration and was not involved in the report. In that situation, a toddler born in the present day would see a finish to coal use in the United Kingdom, for instance, by their sixth birthday and the world reaching internet-zero emissions by the point they had been 31.