The British medical journal The Lancet just published a comprehensive new report on the global health impacts of climate change … and damn, it's bleak. Here are some samplings, just from the executive summary:
Because of the rapidly increasing temperatures, vulnerable populations (adults older than 65 years, and children younger than one year of age) were exposed to 3·7 billion more heatwave days in 2021 than annually in 1986–2005, and heat-related deaths increased by 68% between 2000–04 and 2017–21, a death toll that was significantly exacerbated by the confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Heat exposure led to 470 billion potential labour hours lost globally in 2021 (indicator 1.1.4), with potential income losses equivalent to 0·72% of the global economic output, increasing to 5·6% of the GDP in low Human Development Index (HDI) countries, where workers are most vulnerable to the effects of financial fluctuations. Meanwhile, extreme weather events caused damage worth US$253 billion in 2021, particularly burdening people in low HDI countries in which almost none of the losses were insured
The higher temperatures threaten crop yields directly, with the growth seasons of maize on average 9 days shorter in 2020, and the growth seasons of winter wheat and spring wheat 6 days shorter than for 1981–2010 globally
And that's just the actual climate! What about the indirect consequences of that — like, say, the spread of viruses resulting from changes in the climate?
Coastal waters are becoming more suitable for the transmission of Vibrio pathogens; the number of months suitable for malaria transmission increased by 31·3% in the highland areas of the Americas and 13·8% in the highland areas of Africa from 1951–60 to 2012–21, and the likelihood of dengue transmission rose by 12% in the same period.
Gulp. Okay, well, how are we actually doing on those decarbonization targets?
The carbon intensity of the global energy system has decreased by less than 1% since the UNFCCC was established, and global electricity generation is still dominated by fossil fuels, with renewable energy contributing to only 8·2% of the global total. Simultaneously, the total energy demand has risen by 59%, increasing energy-related emissions to a historical high in 2021. Current policies put the world on track to a catastrophic 2·7°C increase by the end of the century. Even with the commitments that countries set in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) updated up until November 2021, global emissions could be 13·7% above 2010 levels by 2030—far from the 43% decrease from current levels required to meet Paris Agreement goals and keep temperatures within the limits of adaptation.
Oh. Well. Shit.
Big Oil is addicted, but it's killing the rest of us [Bill McKibben / The Crucial Years]
The 2022 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: health at the mercy of fossil fuels [Marina Romanello, Claudia Di Napoli, Paul Drummond, Carole Green, Harry Kennard, Pete Lampard, Daniel Scamman, Nigel Arnell, Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson, Lea Berrang Ford, Kristine Belesova, Kathryn Bowen, Wenjia Cai, Max Callaghan, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Jonathan Chambers, Kim R van Daalen, Carole Dalin, Niheer Dasandi, Shouro Dasgupta, Michael Davies, Paula Dominguez-Salas, Robert Dubrow, Kristie L Ebi, Matthew Eckelman, Paul Ekins, Luis E Escobar, Lucien Georgeson, Hilary Graham, Samuel H Gunther, Ian Hamilton, Yun Hang, Risto Hänninen, Stella Hartinger, Kehan He, Jeremy J Hess, Shih-Che Hsu, Slava Jankin, Louis Jamart, Ollie Jay, Ilan Kelman, Gregor Kiesewetter, Patrick Kinney, Tord Kjellstrom, Dominic Kniveton, Jason K W Lee, Bruno Lemke, Yang Liu, Zhao Liu, Melissa Lott, Martin Lotto Batista, Rachel Lowe, Frances MacGuire, Maquins Odhiambo Sewe, Jaime Martinez-Urtaza, Mark Maslin, Lucy McAllister, Alice McGushin, Celia McMichael, Zhifu Mi, James Milner, Kelton Minor, Jan C Minx, Nahid Mohajeri, Maziar Moradi-Lakeh, Karyn Morrissey, Simon Munzert, Kris A Murray, Tara Neville, Maria Nilsson, Nick Obradovich, Megan B O'Hare, Tadj Oreszczyn, Matthias Otto, Fereidoon Owfi, Olivia Pearman, Mahnaz Rabbaniha, Elizabeth J Z Robinson, Joacim Rocklöv, Renee N Salas, Jan C Semenza, Jodi D Sherman, Liuhua Shi, Joy Shumake-Guillemot, Grant Silbert, Mikhail Sofiev, Marco Springmann, Jennifer Stowell, Meisam Tabatabaei, Jonathon Taylor, Joaquin Triñanes, Fabian Wagner, Paul Wilkinson, Matthew Winning, Marisol Yglesias-González, Shihui Zhang, Peng Gong, Hugh Montgomery, Anthony Costello* / The Lancet]
Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons