Brussels (Brussels Morning) More than 200 of the world’s medical journals have published a joint commentary on Monday, warning about the mounting global health challenges as the planet is on track to exceed the 1.5 degree Celsius warming limit compared to pre-industrial averages.
The joint editorial, signed by editors-in-chief of publications such as the Lancet, Brazil’s Revista de Saude Publica and the International Nursing review, warned that the health impact of continued global warming will steadily increase the global death toll from heat-related health problems.
These effects also stand to affect vulnerable groups the most, such as minorities, the children and poorer communities around the globe. The editorial notes that the higher temperatures brought increased risks of dehydration, kidney failure, adverse skin conditions, tropical diseases, pregnancy complications, heart and lung problems and adverse mental health outcomes.
The rising warming trend, coupled with increased loss of biodiversity, poses a risk of catastrophic harm to global health, which the authors warn could be impossible to reverse.
Giving a statement ahead of the publication of the editorial, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus compared the climate crisis to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, noting that the former is much more dangerous, its risks likely to dwarf those of any single disease. “The COVID-19 pandemic will end, but there is no vaccine for the climate crisis,” said Ghebreyesus.
The editorial itself drew a similar parallel, noting how the world’s governments addressed the threat of the coronavirus pandemic with unprecedented funding, calling for a similar “emergency response” to the environmental crisis.
The editorial argues that governments should make fundamental changes to how the world’s societies and economies are organised, and how people live, but notes that the benefits are likely to far outweigh the costs, stressing that healthcare savings from improved air quality alone would already offset the global costs of emissions cuts.