22 May, 2009

Climate change is bad for us

You are wrong if you think climate change is only an environmental issue. Scientists say climate change will have devastating consequences for human health over the next few decades.

Rising global temperature will alter patterns of infections and insect- borne diseases and lead to increased deaths due to heat waves.

Reduced water and food security will trigger malnutrition and diarrheal diseases.

An increase in the frequency and magnitude of natural disasters such as hurricanes, cyclones and storm surges will result in flooding and direct injury.

There is also a likelihood of large- scale population migration and consequent civil unrest.

“ The big message of this report is that climate change is a health issue affecting billions of people, not just an environmental issue about polar bears and deforestation".

During this century, the earth’s average surface temperature rise is likely to exceed the safe threshold of 2 degree Celsius above pre- industrial average temperature.

The trend is already visible.

The 12 warmest years in the last 150 years have been recorded during the past 13 years. Year 1998 was the warmest, followed by 2005, 2002, 2003, and 2004.

By 2100, northeast India and Australia can expect summer temperatures to peak over 50 degree Celsius, and the southwest, central west, and southern Europe over 40 degree Celsius.

Effects of climate change on health will affect most populations in the next decades and put the health of billions at increased risk, the report said. Malaria, encephalitis, and dengue fever will become increasingly widespread.

Half of the world’s population could face severe food shortage by the end of the century because the rising temperatures will take a toll on agriculture. Just a 1 degree Celsius change can make a difference of 17 per cent in yields.

Heat has a major effect on mortality. Heat waves in 2003 claimed 70,000 additional lives in Europe. While some people believe population in India and Africa may be more resistant to heat waves, there is little evidence and major heat waves could increase death rates in these populations more than in rich countries, the report said.