The IPCC report from earlier this year has cast light on the severity of the current climate crisis. However, a report published by the Lancet Countdown earlier this week further drove that point home, specifically showing how climate change will affect human health in the future.
A world of evidence
Today, the vast majority—upwards of 97%—of scientists support the consensus that humans are exacerbating the climate crisis. And, when you look at the natural disasters moving across the world, it’s no wonder why.
The 2021 report by the Lancet Countdown points out that in addition to the wildfires, droughts, and floods happening across the world, most countries remain stuck in a global health crisis. Unfortunately, as time passes, the climate will have an even more severe impact on human health and wellbeing.
From droughts wrecking the global food supply to warmer temperatures encouraging the spread of lethal pathogens like malaria, the report emphasizes that the world of tomorrow won’t be pretty if we don’t steer away from the course we’re currently on.
The report also concludes that in many parts of the world, this is already the reality. For example, a heatwave led to more than 1,000 deaths in the Pacific Northwest earlier this year. Most of these people were vulnerable members of the population—either over the age of 65, younger than one, or facing severe social disadvantages. While climate change will affect everyone, at-risk groups will suffer the most in the future.
COVID-19: An opportunity
Many environmentalists see COVID-19 as an opportunity for a green recovery. As the world slowly eases itself out of the grips of the pandemic, it’s a chance for countries to invest resources into moving away from fossil fuels. Opportunities to take a step back and assess the current state of society don’t happen often, so it’s one that world leaders should jump on.
Both health and environmental experts also seek to draw attention to the parallels between health and the environment. In both fields, it doesn’t matter if one country is doing well—the world needs to do well to escape catastrophe.
More specifically, without widespread vaccination efforts, COVID-19 will continue to mutate into new variants, wreaking havoc on countries in the global North and South alike. Likewise, carbon emissions need to decrease in all countries, not just one or two climate-conscious ones. Otherwise, the world as a whole will suffer.