Report shows climate change taking toll on millions of lives

by The Week

Climate change is already taking an “unequivocal and potentially irreversible” toll on the world’s population, causing more severe heat waves, droughts, flooding, wildfires, disease outbreaks, and food shortages, a new international study warns. A multidisciplinary team of 63 researchers—including economists, ecologists, and mathematicians—found that temperature increases since the 1980s have contributed to a 46 percent rise in the frequency of extreme weather. Heat waves and droughts have reduced crop yields and contributed to unstable food supplies, as well as a 5.3 percent loss in labor productivity. Rising sea levels have forced thousands of coastal residents to migrate inland. Warmer temperatures have extended allergy season and expanded the range of ticks and mosquitoes, resulting in significantly more outbreaks of dengue fever, Lyme disease, and other vector-borne illnesses. Since 1990, fine-particle air pollution has increased by 11 percent. The report concludes that the world’s failure to significantly reduce emissions over the past 25 years has put hundreds of millions of lives at risk. It also urges governments to ramp up their response to climate change. “The impacts we’re experiencing today are already pretty bad,” lead author Nick Watts, from University College London, tells The Guardian (U.K.). “The things we’re talking about in the future are potentially catastrophic.”


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