Last week, the Lancet published its fifth annual report on Climate Change and human health. Dr Phil Staddon, was invited to comment on the report by ‘Science Media Centre‘, which in turn was cited by other news outlets including the Daily Telegraph and The Independent online.
The Lancet report ‘Countdown on health and climate change 2020′ published on 3rd December 2020 brings together the latest information on how climate change is impacting global health now. The urgency of the climate change emergency is becoming ever clearer, and this is true for practically every region of the world. The delay in mitigating climate change by limiting emissions is a missed opportunity to minimize current and future impacts on health and wellbeing.
Dr Staddon who was not involved in the report, commented that “the report is a very thorough and detailed account of the health impacts of climate change, although maybe overly rich world focused, in part because that is where most research effort is located.” Dr Staddon draws attention to the fact that “the rich world will have the resources to cope with these predicted climate changes and mitigate them much better than the Global South.” He suggests that “for many poorer countries, the health impacts of climate change will be nothing short of a calamity unless actions are taken now.”
The current Covid-19 pandemic offers hope in that many countries around the world are working together to find a solution in the form of vaccines and have implemented vast changes to everyday life to protect public health. The amount of money allocated to fight Covid-19 and the accepted negative impact on economies is phenomenal, and yet it is clearly arguable from the data in the Lancet report that the recurring annual health costs of climate change, and from associated fossil fuel burning, are of a similar magnitude and yet comparatively little is being done. Dr Staddon is optimistic that “the current focus on public health and acceptance that economic sacrifices are required to combat Covid-19 could prove to be a long-awaited game changer in tackling climate change from both mitigation and adaptation perspectives.”
Media commentary on the Lancet countdown report can be found here:
- Exposure of vulnerable to heat reached new record in 2019, says Lancet – The Independent – Daisy Dunne
- Heatwaves kill increasing numbers of elderly people, Lancet study finds – Daily Telegraph – Olivia Rudgard