Health: Experts: Stronger health consequences of the climate crisis

The climate crisis entails increasing health risks for people in Europe and other regions of the world that are already badly affected.

Health: Experts: Stronger health consequences of the climate crisis

The climate crisis entails increasing health risks for people in Europe and other regions of the world that are already badly affected. Without further action on climate change, more Europeans are likely to fall ill or die from heat waves or infectious diseases, for example, the EU Environment Agency EEA warned in a new report on Wednesday. The aid organization Doctors Without Borders called for climate change to be seen as a "real health crisis".

For its report, the Copenhagen-based EEA looked at the extent to which climate change poses a threat to health and well-being in Europe. She focused on the effects of high temperatures and the climate-related spread of infectious diseases. Diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are therefore expected to spread further north as climate change progresses, causing a higher disease burden.

Unprecedented heat waves as the greatest threat

Heat waves can become an increasing danger because they become more frequent and severe as a result of climate change. According to the EEA, they were already responsible for 86 to 91 percent of all deaths from extreme weather and climate events in the member states between 1980 and 2020. Unprecedented heatwaves, such as those seen this year, pose the greatest direct climate-related health threat to Europeans, the EEA said.

Heat already leads to numerous deaths and illnesses in Europe every year. The Environment Agency warned that without further action on the climate crisis, the numbers will increase. Means of adaptation include the creation of green and shady places in cities, better building design and adjusted working hours. The experts explained that it was time to move from planning to action, also with a view to the COP27 world climate conference currently taking place in Egypt.

Elsewhere in the world, for example in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, people have had to deal with climate-related health hazards for a long time. The majority of people in the countries of the Global South are already suffering from the consequences of global warming, said the international medical director of Doctors Without Borders, Maria Guevara, the German Press Agency in Berlin. If there is no immediate response, the crisis will get worse for everyone.

Cholera outbreaks are already increasing

According to Guevara, global health suffers significantly from climate impacts such as floods or insect plagues. You can see an exponential growth in diseases that are transmitted via insects, water or food. "Between 2017 and 2021, for example, fewer than 20 major cholera outbreaks were reported per year. This year there are already at least 29."

Added to this is the risk of further pandemics. According to Guevara, new outbreaks are to be expected. This is due to the fact that mankind is penetrating more and more into the habitats of animals, at the same time many animal species are looking for new habitats because of global warming. This would make it easier for diseases to spread to humans.

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