Climate change to hit health above economy: study|
Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:23pm EST
By Rob Taylor
CANBERRA (Reuters) - Climate change will have potentially devastating
consequences for human health, outweighing global economic impacts, researchers
said on Friday, calling for urgent action to protect the world's population.
"While we embark on more rapid reduction of emissions to avert future climate
change, we must also manage the now unavoidable health risks from current and
pending climate change," said Australian researcher Tony McMichael, who
co-authored a study in the British Medical Journal.
"This will have adverse health effects in all populations, particularly in
geographically vulnerable and resource-poor regions," he said.
McMichael, from Australia's Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health,
said increased wildfires, droughts, flooding and disease stemming from climate
change posed a much more fundamental threat to human wellbeing than economic
A 2006 report by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern said
climate change had the potential to shrink the global economy by between 5 and
20 percent, causing a similar impact to the Great Depression.
But McMichael said climate shift would bring changes to the pattern of
infectious diseases, the effect of worsening food yields and loss of people's
While it was unlikely to spawn entirely new types of diseases, it would
impact on the frequency, range and season patterns of many existing disorders,
with between 20 and 70 million more people living in malarial regions by 2080,
And the impact would be hardest in poor countries, said the researchers,
including co-author Sharon Friel from the Australian National University, Tony
Nyong from Nigeria's Jos University and Carlos Corvalan of the World Health
"Infectious diseases cannot be stabilized in circumstances of climatic
instability, refugee flows and impoverishment," McMichael said. "Poverty cannot
be eliminated while environmental degradation exacerbates malnutrition, disease
McMichael said immediate decision-making was needed to involve health
professionals in planning for the impact of climate change.
Kevin Parton, from Australia's Charles Sturt University, said the report was
a wake-up call that the world needed to be doing more to eradicate diseases such
"The health risks are massive, and the best way to mitigate them is to
minimize the extent of climate change. Global community health is the climate
change issue," he said.
(Editing by Alex Richardson)
Original article: Reuters
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