A report on climate change and health commissioned by University College London and the Lancet concludes that: “Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.”
In this report, the authors emphasise not only the immediacy and gravity of this threat but also the directness: while the poorest in the world will be the first affected, no-one will be spared. The escalating carbon footprint of the developed world has led to the present situation, but the rapid impact on developing countries such as the encroaching deserts in Africa is the immediate price.
There are important co-benefits of tackling climate change for those with long term conditions in the developed world, such as those that come from more exercise with less use of cars and dietary change with reduced meat consumption.
In December 2009, world governments will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, to negotiate a new UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
There is a real danger that politicians will be indecisive, especially in such turbulent economic times as these. Should their response be weak, the results for international health could be catastrophic.
Health professionals need to ensure that politicians consider the effects of climate change and implement strategies that will benefit the health of communities worldwide.
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