health problems: Code red: health problems are getting worse due to climate change

Health problems linked to climate change are all getting worse, according to two reports released on Wednesday.

Annual reports commissioned by the medical journal Lancet tracked 44 global health indicators related to climate change, including heat deaths, infectious diseases and hunger. All of them are getting darker and darker, said Marina Romanello, research director of the Lancet Countdown Project, a biochemist.

“Rising temperatures have consequences,” said Kristie Ebi, professor of environmental health at the University of Washington, co-author of the report.

This year’s reports – one global, the other aimed solely at the United States – titled “Code Red for a Healthy Future” highlight dangerous trends:

– Vulnerable populations – the elderly and the very young – were subjected to more dangerous heat last year. For people over 65, the researchers calculated that there were 3 billion more “person-day” exposures to extreme heat than the 1986-2005 average.

– More people were in places where climate-sensitive diseases can thrive. Coastal areas warm enough for the nasty Vibrio bacteria have increased in the Baltic countries, the northeastern United States, and the Pacific northwest over the past decade. In some poor countries, the season for malaria-vector mosquitoes has extended since the 1950s.

“Code Red isn’t even a warm enough color for this report,” said Stanford University professor of tropical medicine Dr. Michele Barry, who was not on the study team. Compared to the last Lancet report, “this one is the realization that we are going completely in the wrong direction”.

In the United States, heat, fire and drought caused the biggest problems. An unprecedented heat wave in the Pacific Northwest and across Canada struck this summer, which a previous study found could not have happened without man-made climate change.

Study co-author Dr Jeremy Hess, professor of environmental health and emergency medicine at the University of Washington, said he witnessed the impacts of climate change while working in theaters. Seattle emergency during the heat.

“I have seen paramedics who had burns to their knees after kneeling down to treat patients with heatstroke,” he said. “And I have seen far too many patients die” from the heat.

Another Boston emergency physician said science is now showing what it has seen for years, citing asthma from worsening allergies as an example.

“Climate change is first and foremost a health crisis unfolding in the United States,” said Dr Renee Salas, also co-author of the report.

The dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health, Dr Lynn Goldman, who was not part of the project, said that health problems from climate change “continue to worsen much faster than ‘we would not have expected it just a few years ago.

The report states that 65 of the 84 countries included subsidize the burning of fossil fuels, which cause climate change. Doing this “is like caring for a desperately ill patient while someone hands him lit cigarettes and junk food,” said Dr. Richard Jackson, a professor of public health at UCLA who did not. part of the study.

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