WHO: Climate change major threat to human health

  • 31/08/2014

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is warning climate change is the greatest threat to human health this century.

It has just concluded its first-ever global conference on climate change, and a New Zealand doctor who was there says the effects of a warming world are already being felt.

Melting ice, extreme weather events such as flooding and bushfires, and greenhouse gas emissions – these are the events most commonly associated with climate change. But the World Health Organisation is now warning diseases like malaria more accurately portray the human cost of a warming world.

The WHO has just held the first-ever global conference on health and climate at its headquarters in Switzerland.

Auckland doctor Sudhvir Singh was there and says the conclusion is clear.

"Climate change is the biggest threat to human health in the 21st century. Many countries are already seeing the effects of climate change locally in terms of poor health outcomes, and by addressing climate change we can see huge improvements in public health looking forward."

The WHO says climate change is killing tens of thousands of people every year, with extreme weather and malnutrition from poor crop yields. Warmer temperatures are also spreading diseases like malaria.

And it's not just climate change; air pollution, which causes climate change, killed 7 million people in 2012.

But Dr Singh says there are ways to minimise the risks, such as promoting cycling.

"We'll not only be reducing our carbon emissions but also be encouraging greater amounts of physical activity in our community, which is the number one preventative way of addressing chronic diseases," says Dr Singh.

The WHO says climate change's cost to the health sector will be up to $4.5 billion a year by 2030, but the real cost is to human lives. It estimates 250,000 more people will die every year between 2030 and 2050.

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source: newshub archive