- Global warming, deemed a “climate emergency,” has profound implications for human prosperity, leading to malnutrition, disease, and increasing susceptibility to extreme weather events.
- Six strategies have been proposed to mitigate climate change effects, including enforcing large-scale energy conservation, reducing emissions of climate pollutants, rehabilitating natural ecosystems, promoting plant-based diets, transitioning our economy towards conserving the biosphere, and adopting policies to manage population growth.
- Climate change is enhancing disease transmission as mosquitoes and ticks expand their habitats, and is contributing to more frequent and severe weather events such as wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
- Failing crop and fish yields due to climate change threaten global food security, potentially exacerbating hunger and starvation worldwide.
- Clean water access could become a significant challenge due to climate change, impacting the health security of millions of people.
A collective effort of over 11,000 scientists from all over the world warns that our planet is under the dire threat of a “climate emergency”, which can lead to “unprecedented human suffering” unless severe measures are immediately taken into action.
The increasing temperatures worldwide are already affecting human life, leading to widespread malnutrition and disease, with significantly worsening projections, according to lead scientist of the coalition, William Ripple. As an esteemed professor of ecology at Oregon State University College of Forestry, he stresses how global warming has become a significant threat to human prosperity.
“Ultimately, our alert is not just about the environment but significantly about human prosperity as climate change poses a serious hazard to human well-being,” Ripple asserted.
Climate change, which is escalating quicker than earlier estimated by most scientists, is also bringing severe consequences, a paper revealed on Nov. 5 in the journal BioScience. This warning is endorsed by 11,258 scientists from 153 countries worldwide.
Key Steps to Mitigate Climate Change
Almost immediately after the U.S. formally notified the Paris Agreement about its withdrawal, the scientists documented six urgent solutions to mollify global warming:
- Enforce large-scale energy conservation practices including regulating the use of fossil fuels.
- Quickly curtail emissions of climate pollutants like methane, soot, and hydrofluorocarbons, which could halve the warming trend over the next few decades.
- Rehabilitate and safeguard natural ecosystems like forests, grasslands, and wetlands, crucial for controlling the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
- Encourage plant-based diets and reducing animal products as livestock rearing requires more resources and produces methane along with other greenhouse gases.
- Transition the global economy towards acknowledging human’s dependence on the biosphere and lessen the exploitation of natural ecosystems that maintain planetary health.
- Adopt policies reducing the ever-growing global human population, increasing by over 200,000 people a day.
Ripple affirms, “Although the situation is urgent, it’s not entirely hopeless. Any action taken now will relieve future suffering.” He continues “We are already committed to some climate change, but efficiency in the action taken now might help us avoid disastrous climate change.”
The Implications of Global Warming on Human Health
The impacts of global warming on human health are already evident and are becoming increasingly worse, claim Ripple and Dr. Eric Cioe Pena, director of global health at Northwell Health.
With the warming climate, populations of mosquitoes and ticks are spreading towards the north, bringing with them a host of infectious diseases. “As the climate continues to warm and evolves from temperate to tropical, we’re likely to see Zika, Dengue, and some of these other diseases spread across the U.S.,” explains Pena.+’
Extreme weather events that threaten human life, such as wildfires are also becoming increasingly prevalent. Ripple points out the recent wildfires outbreak in California which not only endangers neighbourhoods but also fills the sky with hazardous smoke.
In addition to this, hurricanes and tornadoes are becoming more frequent and ferocious. Pena warns, “We’re going to see these superstorms more often, which threatens our coasts directly.”
With the changing climate endangering crop and fish yields, the world may face increased hunger and starvation. “Several hundred million people already deal with hunger or starvation, and that number could dramatically increase with severe climate change,” Ripple noted.
Pena also pointed out that it could reach a stage where even obtaining clean water becomes a significant challenge. “Not to exaggerate the circumstances, but these are severe issues,” he stated. “We’re talking about the health security of millions of people. That should be a cause of concern for everyone.”
For more information about climate change and human health, you can visit the U.S. Global Change Research Program.