Sunday December 8, 2019
Home Environment Human Health ...

Human Health Affected due to Climate Change: WHO

As Lungs Pay Cost of Dirty Fuels, UN Urges Action on Climate Health Risks

0
//
Pollution- climate crisis
Climate crisis has increased due to air pollution and people are facing lung and heart-related problems. VOA

Human health is paying the price of the world’s failure to curb global warming, the World Health Organization warned on Tuesday, urging governments at U.N. climate talks to cut climate-changing emissions faster and provide funds to address growing threats.

Those range from lung and heart problems caused by toxic air to deaths in storms and wildfires, and the expansion of dengue, malaria, cholera and other diseases spread by mosquitoes and contaminated water.

“The cost of not taking enough action at the climate summit … is paid by my lungs and your lungs,” said Maria Neira, director of the department of environment, climate change and health at the World Health Organization (WHO), a U.N. agency.

The causes of climate change and air pollution overlap, she added, calling for societies to “decarbonize,” including by ditching coal as a source of power and heat, and ending subsidies for the extraction and use of fossil fuels.

According to the WHO, the burning of oil, gas and coal is responsible for two-thirds of the outdoor air pollution that causes about 4 million premature deaths each year.

More intense and longer heat waves are another growing health problem in many parts of the world.

A study published in the journal Nature on Monday found extreme heat in the United States from 1969-1988 caused an increase in deliveries of babies on the day it hit and the day after, with those births happening up to two weeks before they were due.

Such early births can potentially harm children’s later development, researchers said.

Mozambique Cyclone- climate
An aerial photo shows local residents walk on a damaged road following the devastating Tropical Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique due to climate change. VOA

At the Madrid climate talks Tuesday, activists and aid agencies cited a rise in hospital emissions linked to smoke from Australia’s recent bushfires.

In southern African countries hit by Cyclone Idai this year, they said, people are struggling to feed their families after fields and homes were destroyed.

To deal with the rising human and financial health costs of climate change, health services and related institutions need a boost in funding — currently sorely lacking, the WHO said.

On Tuesday, it released a report highlighting how countries are increasingly prioritizing dealing with climate change threats to health.

Half of about 100 nations surveyed said they had developed a national strategy or plan to tackle the risks.

Paying for improvements

But only about 38% had finances in place to even partially implement their plans, and fewer than 10% had the money to put them fully into practice, the report showed.

Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, WHO’s coordinator for climate change and health, said all countries surveyed — from Europe to the Americas, Africa and Asia — are struggling to finance measures such as protecting hospitals from weather disasters and ramping up disease surveillance.

In richer countries, the difficulty lies in securing allocations from national budgets due to competing priorities.

Poorer nations, on the other hand, need international climate finance to help them cope, but are struggling to access it because of a lack of information, capacity and connections.

As a result, less than half a percent of international climate finance has gone to projects to head off climate risks to health, Campbell-Lendrum said.

Heat Wave
Due to the climate crisis, tourists hold umbrellas to shelter from the sun as they walk past the Colosseum, in Rome. VOA

“These countries are exposed, they are vulnerable and they are unsupported,” he added.

Smart hospitals

The WHO plans to help developing countries put together projects to bolster their health systems that can secure backing from international climate funds, he added.

One of the biggest potential sources of finance, the Green Climate Fund, has identified health and well being as a priority area but has yet to approve any projects with that focus, Campbell-Lendrum noted.

Things that could be financed might include “smart hospitals” — now being tested in the Caribbean — built to withstand strong winds and floods while also harvesting rainwater and running on solar power.

Off-grid renewable energy projects also can cut emissions from health facilities and make them more resilient in disasters when electricity networks go down, Campbell-Lendrum said.

He noted that the mental health impacts of climate change had “shot up the agenda.”

Also Read- China- Top Contributor in Global Warming

The effects can range from the trauma of going through disasters to the shock of being made homeless, or young people feeling anxious and frustrated about climate change.

Once a “hidden issue,” it is “the one that we have heard the most about in the past four to five months,” he told journalists in Madrid. (VOA)

Next Story

Sea Levels Rising Faster & Higher Than Expected: UN Varsity

"When migration is the only way out, it turns into forced relocation, an option that is not attractive to many Marshallese families."

0
tides
In addition, with 12 inches of sea level rise, visits would be reduced by about 24 per cent, a figure that could mean hundreds of thousands in lost revenue, as per the researchers.  Pixabay

Sea levels are rising faster and higher than previously expected. Long-term sea level rise will vary greatly depending on emissions, but could reach nearly four meters by 2300 if emissions are not reduced, experts with the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) said on Friday.

Extreme events at the coast, such as hurricanes, tsunamis and floods, that used to occur once a century, will hit many coasts every year by 2050, even under low emission scenarios.

This is especially problematic for low-lying islands, such as the Pacific Islands, which will suffer from disasters and see a loss of livelihood as sea water salinizes the soil and freshwater resources, hampering farming activities.

Some islands could become entirely uninhabitable because there is no more access to fresh water.

“Sea level rise is here to stay. Even in a wonderful, but completely unrealistic zero emission scenario, we will see the consequences of sea level rise,” said Zita Sebesvari, a senior scientist at the UNU-EHS.

“This is because the sea level rise we are experiencing at the moment is the consequence of global warming that started from emissions released decades ago. Because large bodies of water like oceans warm up slowly, changes in sea level lag behind warming of the atmosphere.”

According to the recently released IPCC special report on the oceans and cryosphere in a changing climate, for which Sebesvari was a lead author, by 2050 sea levels will rise by 20 to 40 cm globally.

There will be regional differences, but all parts of the world will be affected.

“After 2050, however, we could see anything from stabilization, if we stick to the emissions goals of the Paris Agreement, to the aforementioned four metres by 2300, if we continue with the current emissions.”

“What the report shows is that both mitigation and adaptation will be necessary. We have to reduce emissions to avoid the more extreme scenarios, but we also have to prepare for the extent of sea level rise that we cannot avoid,” said Sebesvari in a statement.

sea levels
People living in coastal areas are highly affected by economic losses caused by frequent flooding and the impact worsens when the sea level rises, making them more frequent, says a new study. Pixabay

As one of the lowest-lying island nation states in the world, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is particularly vulnerable to the rising sea level and other climate hazards, and it is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, such as salinity intrusion and an increase of extreme weather events.

In the last 10-20 years, more than a third of the Marshallese have moved abroad, mostly to the US.

“Marshallese cite many reasons for moving abroad, predominantly work, healthcare, and education,” said Kees van der Geest, a senior migration expert at UNU-EHS.

“Climate change is a big concern to them, but is not yet seen as a reason to move.”

However, a new study by van der Geest, together with colleagues from the University of Hawaii, does show a correlation between climate impacts and migration rates at the household level: Those who experience more severe climate stress, especially drought and heat, also have higher migration rates.

Also Read: Uber Receives 3,045 Cases of Sexual Assault in U.S. in Year 2018

Despite this finding, the study also shows that most Marshallese fiercely resist the idea that climate change could make their home uninhabitable and they would need to leave their islands someday.

They think that adaptation is possible, and with support of their government and international donors, they are finding ways to adapt. Recently installed fresh water tanks on the islands will ensure the availability of drinking water even with increasing salinity intrusion.

As the world leaders gather for two-week UN climate change conference or COP25, it is countries like the Marshall Islands that urgently depend on solutions and ambitious climate action.

“Adaptation must be considered as the first and preferred option,” concludes van der Geest.

“When migration is the only way out, it turns into forced relocation, an option that is not attractive to many Marshallese families.” (IANS)