Climate change and human health - FFT Ecology News

Climate change and human health

Climate change in Europe has already had an impact on public health and will continue to do so in the future. What are the consequences for the health of Europeans? What will be provided in the future? We raised these questions with Bettina Menne of the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

Will climate change affect human health?

Of course, climate change has direct or indirect effects on human health; in addition, the impact of climate change on health can be reflected in the short and long term. In fact, it is estimated that on a global scale, 150,000 people died in 2000 due to climate change. A recent WHO study shows that by 2040, our death toll will reach 250,000 per year. If we exclude the expected reduction in infant mortality in the coming years from the calculation, the estimate will be even higher:

Therefore, it can be concluded that extreme weather events have become a major factor in climate change affecting public health. In addition, the death rate from heat waves and floods will increase, especially in Europe. Finally, the expected changes in the distribution of vector-borne diseases will also have an important impact on human health.

How do extreme weather events affect public health?

Different types of extreme weather events affect different regions: for example, heat waves are mainly caused by problems in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, but less frequently in other regions. It can be said that it is estimated that the 2003 heat wave caused more than 70,000 deaths in 12 European countries (mainly the oldest members of the population). In fact, with age, the speed of the thermal regulation system will slow down, making the elderly more vulnerable to high temperatures.

It is estimated that by 2050, the heat wave will cause more than 120,000 deaths in Europe every year. If appropriate measures are not taken to solve this problem, it will cause 150 billion euros in losses. These estimates are higher, not only due to higher temperatures and increased frequency of heat waves, but also due to changes in European demographic trends: in fact, currently about 20% of EU citizens are over 65 years of age; it is estimated that by 2050, this Citizens of the age group will account for 30% of the total population.

High temperatures are usually related to air pollution (especially ground-level ozone pollution), which can cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, especially in children and the elderly, and lead to premature death.

Other extreme weather events (such as excessive rainfall caused by floods) can also affect public health.

How does the flood affect our health?

To give a specific example, the devastating floods that hit Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014, Croatia and Serbia killed 60 people and affected more than 2.5 million people. In addition to the direct impact on health, it also has a major impact on rescue operations and public health services. Many hospitals are flooded, especially on the lower floors where the heaviest medical equipment is usually preserved, which leads to a decline in the ability of medical services to respond to natural disasters and provide needed care to patients.

After such a disaster, in addition to losing their homes, flood victims also have an increased chance of suffering from other long-term health problems (including stress).

There are other indirect health risks, mainly due to environmental degradation and pollution: for example, floods may carry pollutants and chemicals from industrial facilities, wastewater and sewage, leading to the pollution of drinking water and sewage. Agricultural land. If sewage and industrial water are not properly treated, overflow water or more obvious runoff water will bring pollutants to lakes and oceans, some of which may enter our food chain.

What other health risks are related to climate change?

Health risks are of different nature: for example, higher temperatures are good for forest fires. About 70,000 fires occur in continental Europe every year. Although most fires are arson incidents, higher temperatures and drought tend to exacerbate the overall loss. Some fires can cause death and property damage, and all combustions produce particulate air pollution-these substances in turn can cause illness and premature death.

Higher temperatures, milder winters and wetter summers are expanding the area where disease-carrying insects (such as mosquitoes) live and reproduce. Even in new areas where the climate is not conducive to the development and spread of these diseases, these insects can cause diseases such as Lyme disease, dengue fever and malaria, or conversely, climate change may cause the disappearance of certain diseases. From the area where they are currently located. For example, changes in the geographic distribution of “host” animals, such as future warming, may cause ticks (and the diseases they carry) to spread at higher altitudes and further north. deer.

Seasonal changes (some seasons seem to start earlier and last longer) may also have a negative impact on human health, especially for people with allergies. In addition, exposure to several allergens at the same time may cause asthma peaks.

The risks associated with climate change are also long-term: changes in temperature and rainfall may affect pan-European food production capacity, and food production in Central Asia will be greatly reduced. A further decline in production capacity in the region will not only exacerbate malnutrition, but will also trigger other wide-ranging consequences, such as rising food prices worldwide. Therefore, in terms of food security and free access to food, climate change is a factor to be considered, which may exacerbate existing social and economic problems.

How are government authorities prepared to deal with the consequences of climate change?

Compared with other parts of the world, European health services are relatively more competent in responding to the health effects of climate change. For example, malaria has little chance of recurrence in the European Union. However, single events such as floods or sustained heat waves will continue to put increasing pressure on health services in the affected areas. European countries will need to strengthen and adjust their health services to manage the potential consequences of climate change in the region. For example, a hospital may need to be relocated or refurbished to prepare for flooding. In addition, the tools used to share information with vulnerable groups can be enhanced to prevent contamination.

The European Division of WHO has been studying the impact of climate change on human health for 20 years: in fact, we have developed methods and tools for assessing the impact of changes on the environment and provided them to member states in the process of adapting to climate change Aid. The adaptation measures we recommend can be found in our recent report, but we want to emphasize that adaptation measures alone are not enough.

It is now clear that measures must be taken at the national level to mitigate climate change in order to maintain public health. Some of these interventions may also have beneficial effects on health: for example, promoting so-called “active transportation” (such as biking and walking) can help reduce obesity and non-communicable diseases. Alternatively, renewable energy sources such as solar energy can help provide continuous energy to facilities that provide health services in remote areas.

Bettina MenneOMS European Project Manager

Climate change in Europe has already had an impact on public health and will continue to do so in the future. What are the consequences for the health of Europeans? What will be provided in the future? We raised these questions with Bettina Menne of the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

Will climate change affect human health?

Of course, climate change has direct or indirect effects on human health; in addition, the impact of climate change on health can be reflected in the short and long term. In fact, it is estimated that on a global scale, 150,000 people died in 2000 due to climate change. A recent WHO study shows that by 2040, our death toll will reach 250,000 per year. If we exclude the expected reduction in infant mortality in the coming years from the calculation, the estimate will be even higher:

Therefore, it can be concluded that extreme weather events have become a major factor in climate change affecting public health. In addition, the death rate from heat waves and floods will increase, especially in Europe. Finally, the expected changes in the distribution of vector-borne diseases will also have an important impact on human health.

How do extreme weather events affect public health?

Different types of extreme weather events affect different regions: for example, heat waves are mainly caused by problems in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, but less frequently in other regions. It can be said that it is estimated that the 2003 heat wave caused more than 70,000 deaths in 12 European countries (mainly the oldest members of the population). In fact, with age, the speed of the thermal regulation system will slow down, making the elderly more vulnerable to high temperatures.

It is estimated that by 2050, the heat wave will cause more than 120,000 deaths in Europe every year. If appropriate measures are not taken to solve this problem, it will cause 150 billion euros in losses. These estimates are higher, not only due to higher temperatures and increased frequency of heat waves, but also due to changes in European demographic trends: in fact, currently about 20% of EU citizens are over 65 years of age; it is estimated that by 2050, this Citizens of the age group will account for 30% of the total population.

High temperatures are usually related to air pollution (especially ground-level ozone pollution), which can cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, especially in children and the elderly, and lead to premature death.

Other extreme weather events (such as excessive rainfall caused by floods) can also affect public health.

How does the flood affect our health?

To give a specific example, the devastating floods that hit Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014, Croatia and Serbia killed 60 people and affected more than 2.5 million people. In addition to the direct impact on health, it also has a major impact on rescue operations and public health services. Many hospitals are flooded, especially on the lower floors where the heaviest medical equipment is usually preserved, which leads to a decline in the ability of medical services to respond to natural disasters and provide needed care to patients.

After such a disaster, in addition to losing their homes, flood victims also have an increased chance of suffering from other long-term health problems (including stress).

There are other indirect health risks, mainly due to environmental degradation and pollution: for example, floods may carry pollutants and chemicals from industrial facilities, wastewater and sewage, leading to the pollution of drinking water and sewage. Agricultural land. If sewage and industrial water are not properly treated, overflow water or more obvious runoff water will bring pollutants to lakes and oceans, some of which may enter our food chain.

What other health risks are related to climate change?

Health risks are of different nature: for example, higher temperatures are good for forest fires. About 70,000 fires occur in continental Europe every year. Although most fires are arson incidents, higher temperatures and drought tend to exacerbate the overall loss. Some fires can cause death and property damage, and all combustions produce particulate air pollution-these substances in turn can cause illness and premature death.

Higher temperatures, milder winters and wetter summers are expanding the area where disease-carrying insects (such as mosquitoes) live and reproduce. Even in new areas where the climate is not conducive to the development and spread of these diseases, these insects can cause diseases such as Lyme disease, dengue fever and malaria, or conversely, climate change may cause the disappearance of certain diseases. From the area where they are currently located. For example, changes in the geographic distribution of “host” animals, such as future warming, may cause ticks (and the diseases they carry) to spread at higher altitudes and further north. deer.

Seasonal changes (some seasons seem to start earlier and last longer) may also have a negative impact on human health, especially for people with allergies. In addition, exposure to several allergens at the same time may cause asthma peaks.

The risks associated with climate change are also long-term: changes in temperature and rainfall may affect pan-European food production capacity, and food production in Central Asia will be greatly reduced. A further decline in production capacity in the region will not only exacerbate malnutrition, but will also trigger other wide-ranging consequences, such as rising food prices worldwide. Therefore, in terms of food security and free access to food, climate change is a factor to be considered, which may exacerbate existing social and economic problems.

How are government authorities prepared to deal with the consequences of climate change?

Compared with other parts of the world, European health services are relatively more competent in responding to the health effects of climate change. For example, malaria has little chance of recurrence in the European Union. However, single events such as floods or sustained heat waves will continue to put increasing pressure on health services in the affected areas. European countries will need to strengthen and adjust their health services to manage the potential consequences of climate change in the region. For example, a hospital may need to be relocated or refurbished to prepare for flooding. In addition, the tools used to share information with vulnerable groups can be enhanced to prevent contamination.

The European Division of WHO has been studying the impact of climate change on human health for 20 years: in fact, we have developed methods and tools for assessing the impact of changes on the environment and provided them to member states in the process of adapting to climate change Aid. The adaptation measures we recommend can be found in our recent report, but we want to emphasize that adaptation measures alone are not enough.

It is now clear that measures must be taken at the national level to mitigate climate change in order to maintain public health. Some of these interventions may also have beneficial effects on health: for example, promoting so-called “active transportation” (such as biking and walking) can help reduce obesity and non-communicable diseases. Alternatively, renewable energy sources such as solar energy can help provide continuous energy to facilities that provide health services in remote areas.

Bettina MenneOMS European Project Manager