The Lancet is arguably the oldest and most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journal in the world. Thus its 2018 Health and Climate Report dissects the impact of climate change on humans with dispassionate precision of a surgeon. Moreover, it prescribes the bitter pill humanity must take while there is still time to heal our Earth.
A High-Level Diagnosis by The Lancet Team
Contemporary trends in heat waves, vector-borne diseases, and food insecurity are an early warning of worse to come. The overwhelming impact on public health will multiply if temperatures continue to rise, The Lancet warns.
Climate change impacts, and vulnerabilities therefore present an unacceptably high level of risk for the current and future health of populations. Progress in addressing these dangers by reducing emissions, and building adaptive capacity is unacceptably slow.
This worsening situation threatens human lives, and also the viability of the national health systems on which they depend. Moreover, it could disrupt core public health infrastructure and overwhelm health services. Small shifts in temperature and rainfall may widen the extent of vector-borne diseases carried by insects. We could be reaching a point where it could be a question of adapt or die.
Food security could disintegrate further among developing nations. An exponential spread of malaria, denge fever, and cholera could decrease labor productivity to the point some regions plant fewer crops. Depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide could overwhelm the people with a sense of anger, hopelessness, despair, and loss.
A Bitter Pill from The Lancet Journal
Maintaining the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C necessitates a complete de-carbonization of power generation. Furthermore, we must reverse a trend that began with the first industrial revolution, and re-orientate towards sustainable global food and agricultural systems.
We should also rethink the structure and function of spatial infrastructure and cities, and methods of transport. In addition, we must reverse deforestation and land-use change trends. We must make profound changes to methods of delivery of health care too. A ‘lancet’ is a surgical knife with a sharp point for delicate work. But this time it cuts deep.
Preview Image: The Pathways between Climate Change and Human Health