International “Surveillance Report” On Climate Change Published As The
US Version Also Released
Health Threats Are Here Now
---Situation Is Urgent
“Health professionals are clear-eyed about major threats to population
health… We’re against dirty air and water, we’re against drunk
driving, and we’re against smoking. As this report makes clear, we
need to be against climate change too, because it threatens health in
so many, and such serious, ways.”
That was the take home message from the University of Washington’s
Howard Frumkin, a US participant in
The Lancet Countdown,
an international multi-disciplinary collaboration of 26 institutions
to track progress on health and climate change. The purpose of the
initiative is to provide annual reports on a series of at least 40
indicators across a group of five action areas considered crucial for
success in combating climate change. These are:
Measuring Climate Change Impacts, Exposures and Vulnerability
Adaptation Planning and Resilience for Health
Mitigation Actions and Health Co-Benefits
Economics and Finance
and Political Engagement
The 2017 report, the first in a series to appear periodically over the
next several years, has just appeared in The Lancet and is said to
have reached three central conclusions:
1. The human symptoms of climate change are unequivocal and
potentially irreversible – affecting the health of populations around
the world today.
2. The delayed response to climate change over the past 25 years has
jeopardized human life and livelihoods.
3. The transition to low-carbon electricity generation is gathering
pace, suggesting the beginning of a broader transformation that will
benefit human health.
In a University of Washington news article about the Countdown, some
of the report’s key findings were highlighted, including:
Researchers noted a 46 percent increase in weather-related disasters
since 2000, causing $129 billion in economic loss.
Undernutrition is the largest health impact of climate change, with a
6 percent decline in global wheat yields and a 10 percent fall in rice
yields for each additional 1 °C rise in global temperature.
175 million people were exposed to heatwaves in 2015.
percent of cities globally are in breach of World Health Organization
air pollution guidelines, exposing billions of people to unsafe levels
of atmospheric particulate matter.
Transmission of dengue, a mosquito-borne disease, has increased by 3
percent to 5.9 percent.
companion report providing findings nationally-relevant to the United
States was prepared and presented at the 2017 APHA meeting in Atlanta
He called climate
change a “pressing public health issue” because it affects not just
one outcome but multiple outcomes, is severe in that it threatens the
very basis of civilization, and also challenges
everyone’s personal beliefs
requiring us to change our personal behaviors.
The companion report highlights several US relevant findings listed
2000 and 2016, the average number of Americans exposed to heatwave
events annually increased by an average of 14.5 million, compared to
the reference period (1986-2008). 2011 was a year of extremely high
risk, with nearly 130 million additional Americans exposed to
1990 and 2016, the US experienced 623 instances of droughts, floods,
heatwaves, wildfires and storms, resulting in at least 9,551 deaths
and affecting over 110 million Americans . On average, 15 Americans
lose their lives per weather-related disaster - a relatively low
fraction of those affected, but still too high. Continued efforts to
improve disaster preparedness and response will be needed as climate
change increases the severity and frequency of weather-related
change is contributing to changing patterns of infectious disease in
the US - intensifying several risks - and is worsening allergy risks.
has made strides toward reducing its energy supply’s carbon intensity
(tCO2/TJ), with 2013 levels 6.7% lower than 1990 levels. Major
contributors to this are the phase-out of coal, the increased
competitiveness of natural gas, the deployment of renewable and
zero-carbon emission electricity sources, as well as a variety of
energy and fuel efficiency measures in buildings, cars, and across
manufacturing and industry.
The health effects of climate change are not some far off future
event, but are already with us in the here and now says Frumkin, a
Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the
University of Washington School of Public Health. Frumkin was speaking
at the recent APHA meeting in Atlanta on the theme of climate change.
lso challenges our own beliefs requiring us to change our personal