More than a quarter-million people may die each year as a result of climate change in the coming decades, according to a review study. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), climate change would lead to about 250,000 additional deaths each year between 2030 and 2050, from factors such as malnutrition, heat stress and malaria.
However, a new review, published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine, said this is a “conservative estimate.” According to study co-author Dr. Andrew Haines, who is also an epidemiologist and former director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, that’s because it fails to take into account other climate-related factors that could affect death rates — such as population displacement and reductions in labor productivity from farmers due to increased heat.
The WHO estimate, however, didn’t take into account illnesses and deaths tied to disruptions in health services caused by extreme weather and climate events, according to the review, which, however, has not given an updated estimate of climate-change-related deaths. The new review has noted that reduced food production alone is predicted to lead to a net increase of 529,000 adult deaths by 2050. According to World Bank estimates, climate change could force more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030. This, in turn, would make them more vulnerable to the health effects of the changing climate. According to the report, all of this underscores the need for investments and policies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and promote ways to mitigate the health effects of climate change.
According to the report, climate change is causing injuries, illnesses and deaths, with the risks projected to increase substantially with additional climate change, threatening the health of many millions of people. “The pervasive threats to health posed by climate change demand decisive actions from health professionals and governments to protect the health of current and future generations,” it said.