Report: Climate change is biggest global health threat

A new report says that climate change represents the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.

Published in The Lancet, the report said that climate change is already responsible for more heat waves, extreme weather, the spread of disease, increasing pollution, and reduced productivity. The report was produced by 24 academic institutions and United Nations agencies, and comes on the heels of a major assessment from the U.S. government about the dire consequences of a warming planet.

In addition to direct effects like storms, floods, and fires, climate change will also contribute to indirect effects, such as decreased crop yields, overwhelmed water systems, hospitals shutting down, people losing their homes, and a rise in mental health problems, according to the report.

In a November 28, 2018 New York Times article, Gina McCarthy, director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama, commented on the fact that changes in temperatures and rainfall are already spurring diseases that are spread by bugs and water. “I don’t want people to be surprised when they see cases of what used to be tropical diseases now being found in the United States as a result of changing climate,” she said.

Read the New York Times article: Study Warns of Cascading Health Risks From the Changing Climate

Read a CNN article: Climate change is already here, and heat waves are having the biggest effect, report says

Learn more

Curbing climate change means protecting health (Harvard Chan School news)

Major crops lose nutrients when grown in elevated carbon dioxide levels (Harvard Chan School news)

Change in the Air (Harvard Public Health magazine)