Medical journals call climate change “greatest threat to global public health”

A collection of leading medical and health journals this week called for swift action to tackle climate change, calling on governments to cooperate and invest in the environmental crisis with the degree of funding and urgency they have used to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

In an editorial published in more than 200 medical and health journals around the world, the authors said that a 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures was the “greatest threat to global public health.” The world is on track to warm to about 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100, based on current policies.

“The science is unequivocal; a global increase of 1.5 ° C above the pre-industrial average and continued loss of biodiversity risk catastrophic health damage that will be impossible to reverse, ”the authors wrote. “Indeed, no rise in temperature is“ safe ”. “

Although medical journals have co-published editorials in the past, this was the first time the publication was coordinated on this scale. In total, more than 200 journals representing all continents and a wide range of medical and health disciplines, from ophthalmology to veterinary medicine, issued the statement. The authors are editors of leading journals including The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the editorial, they expressed concerns not only about the direct health consequences of rising temperatures, including heat-related mortality, pregnancy complications and cardiovascular disease, but also the indirect costs. , including the effects that soil depletion could have on malnutrition and the possibility that widespread habitat destruction could increase the likelihood of future pandemics.

The editorial urged rich countries to go beyond their targets and commit to emission reductions commensurate with their cumulative and historical emissions. He also called on them to go beyond their stated goals of $ 100 billion for climate resilience plans in developing countries, including funding for improved health systems.

“While low- and middle-income countries have historically contributed less to climate change, they bear an inordinate burden of adverse effects, including on health,” said Dr Lukoye Atwoli, editor-in-chief of East African Medical Journal and one of the editorial’s co-authors, in a statement. “We therefore call for equitable contributions whereby the world’s richest countries do more to offset the impact of their actions on the climate.”

Sue Turale, editor-in-chief of the International Nursing Review and co-author of the editorial, said in a statement: Avoid this.

The publication precedes a few busy months of conferences on climate and the environment. The United Nations General Assembly is scheduled to meet this month in New York, the United Nations Biodiversity Summit will meet in October in Kunming, China, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as name of COP, in Glasgow in November.

A growing body of research has shown that extreme weather events made worse by climate change contribute to a wide range of adverse health consequences. Earlier this year, a study found that about a third of heat-related deaths worldwide can be attributed to the additional warming associated with climate change. And this summer, hundreds of Americans have died in extreme weather events, including more than 600 in the record-breaking week-long heat wave in the Pacific Northwest that climatologists say was “virtually impossible without climate change ”.