How Climate Change’s Impact on Public Health Is a Human Rights Issue

By path2positive

A recent issue of the Annals of Global Health explores the health implications of climate change. In the issue, the authors encourage action to help lessen risks and prepare society for future impacts. Co-author Dr. Jonathan Patz touches upon climate change's disproportionate affects on women and adolescent girls. Females, however, are only one vulnerable group that receives an unequal portion of the climate fallout.  Children, older folks, the poor and communities of color continue to face higher risks of climate impacts than others. "Because the challenges presented by climate change disproportionately affect already vulnerable groups, investigators warn that caution must be exercised when trying to manage the effects of climate change," EurekAlert reports about the review. Co-author Dr. Barry Levy so aptly underscores the point that this uneven impact on populations is nothing less than a human rights issue. We need to hold governments accountable in protecting and promoting public health via these human rights. There are no better advocates than health professionals to do this.


Experts Assess the Impact of Climate Change on Public Health

EurekAlert by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

March 1, 2016

Climate change is already having a noticeable impact on the environment and global health. Around the world extreme weather events, increased temperatures, drought, and rising sea levels are all adversely affecting our ability to grow food, access clean water, and work safely outdoors. Soon in some areas, the transformation will be so drastic and devastating that native populations will be displaced and forced to find new homes as environmental refugees. In a review published in the Annals of Global Health, doctors warn of the impending public health crisis brought on by climate change and call for action to help prepare the world for what is ahead.

As we begin to experience an unprecedented shift in temperature, we are starting to see the immense impact climate change will have on people around the world, especially those living in low-income countries. Bearing the brunt of the damage caused by climate change, low-income nations are especially susceptible because their economies often rely solely on agriculture and most do not possess the resources to ease the risks posed by climate events.

Low-income countries contribute just a tiny fraction of greenhouse gases (GHG), yet, they stand to lose the most if something is not done to curb emissions. In 2004, the United States, Canada, and Australia approached 6 metric tons (mt) of GHG per capita, while per-capita GHG emissions in low-income countries was only 0.6 mt overall.

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