A study by the University College London, published in the medical journal Lancet, has warned that the problems caused by climate change such as food shortages, heat waves and increased threat of tropical diseases like malaria, will kill billions of people worldwide.
This is the first authentic medical assessment of the dangers of global warming.
And, what it would mean is that climate change is now the biggest threat to humanity.
The authors of the study – which included doctors, climatologists and economists – concluded that climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.
The effects of climate change will affect most populations in the next decades and put the lives of and well-being of billions of people at increased risk.”
The study, which took a year to complete, predicted that temperatures are likely to rise in the next century by over 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), resulting in “catastrophic consequences”. It also stresses that the health of people in poorer countries would be hit the hardest since they do not have the money to respond to floods, crop failures or to an increase in insect-borne diseases.
But developed countries will be hit, too. Extreme weather conditions will become more frequent across the world and rises in temperature will particularly affect the elderly and vulnerable.
The result of all these could be mass migration, health problems like starvation and the threat of disease, and even war caused by shortages of food and water. Doctors also warn that even “the fear of climate change” will have a psychosocial effect on health, with patients requiring counseling.
Meanwhile, doctors around the world themselves are being asked to become “advocates for encouraging a low-carbon lifestyle” – for example, by cycling rather than using a car.