New research from 26 global institutions, including the University of Washington School of Public Health, points to climate change as a looming public health emergency. But experts also note that an accelerated response over the last five years has created “clear and unprecedented opportunities for public health.”
Photo: Dr. Howard Frumkin]
In a report in The Lancet medical journal published online Oct. 30, leading doctors, academics and policy professionals from across the world explore 40 unique indicators that measure the health impacts of climate change and assess the world’s response. Those indicators range from the health effects of temperature change to fossil fuel subsidies and investment in coal capacity.
“The Lancet Countdown is an exciting innovation — a global approach to tracking climate change and its health impacts, and to what we’re doing to control the root problem and to protect people in the face of the worst threats,” said co-author Dr. Howard Frumkin, professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Washington. “When you’re sick, your doctor routinely tracks key data such as your blood pressure and your blood counts; finally we’re doing that on a global level for this looming global health challenge.”
Research partners included the World Bank, World Health Organization, University College London, Tsinghua University and the University of Colorado – Boulder.
Among the 2017 report’s key findings:
Despite slow progress, experts said the potential benefits and opportunities of responding to climate change were staggering, and could lead to cleaner air, safer food and water, and more nutritious diets.
“Health professionals are clear-eyed about major threats to population health,” Dr. Frumkin said. “We’re against dirty air and water, we’re against drunk driving, and we’re against smoking. As this report makes clear, we need to be against climate change too, because it threatens health in so many, and such serious, ways.”