“Any further delay in action on climate change will increasingly threaten the health and survival of billions of people living today,” the report says.
The study monitors the changing health impacts of climate change and the direct impact of climate action. He pointed out four main risk areas: rising temperatures that can put health at risk; extreme weather events leading to food insecurity; the broader pressure on health care systems; and the increasing transmission of life-threatening diseases.
“In my opinion, all heat-related deaths are preventable,” said Dr. Renee Salas, an emergency physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who was the study’s lead author. “And it is up to us, within the health sector, to protect those people while at the same time working in the initial phases to get to the root cause and move away from fossil fuels.”
The report also details how some people in the US face particularly serious heat-related risks.
Heat deaths are already increasing. The study found that heat-related deaths among American adults aged 65 and older increased by 88% in 2018-2022 compared to 2000-04. This summer, Arizona’s Maricopa County broke his record for heat deaths in the midst of a brutal and prolonged heat wave.
Babies were also much more likely to suffer during heat waves.
“Extreme ages always pose a higher risk, so babies under one year old simply can’t tell us if they are too hot,” Salas said.
It also risks increasing the transmissibility of potentially deadly viruses, such as malaria. As global temperatures rise, the likelihood that mosquitoes and ticks will be able to survive and thrive in areas they previously couldn’t may also increase each year.
The report also points to short-term solutions for air pollution-related illnesses. Air pollution exacerbates many pre-existing conditions, such as heart disease and asthma, in underserved communities.
“Nearly half of the deaths in the United States from air pollution are due to the burning of fossil fuels. And again, those lives can be saved,” Salas said. “These are short-term benefits that we can experience. And that’s why it’s not abstract or future-oriented. In my opinion, it is a health prescription that you can fill and see.”