Climate change is bad for your health. And plans to boost economies may make it worse
It may seem obvious: Heat kills. Wildfires burn. Flooding drowns.
But the sprawling health effects of a rapidly warming world can also be subtle. Heat sparks violence and disrupts sleep. Wildfire smoke can trigger respiratory events thousands of miles away. Flooding can increase rates of suicide and mental health problems. Warmer winters expand the range of disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks.
A new report from the medical journal The Lancet finds that human-caused climate change is worsening human health in just about every measurable way, and world leaders are missing an opportunity to address it.
Heat waves are dangerous during pregnancy, but doctors don't often mention it
Trillions of dollars are being spent worldwide to help economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but less than 1 in 5 of those dollars are expected to reduce climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the overall impact of those recovery plans is likely to be negative for the world's climate, says Marina Romanello, the lead author of the annual report.
"We are recovering from a health crisis in a way that's putting our health at risk," she says.
Climate-fueled extreme weather is killing people across the U.S. and around the globe
Climate change is already directly affecting hundreds of millions of people around the planet.
Flooding is getting worse; people were trapped in their homes, cars and subways during recent storms. Wildfires are growing in intensity and frequency. Last year, 22 climate-related disasters caused more than a billion dollars in damage in the U.S. alone.
The trend continued into this year. Earlier this summer, hundreds of people were killed during a record-breaking heat wave in the Pacific Northwest that scientists say would have been virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.
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