Story at a glance

  • Rising global temperatures is a critical threat to public health, medical experts say in an open letter.
  • Cosigned by the editorial staff of various medical journals, the letter calls for serious public investment in preventing climate change.
  • They cite heat-related health issues and loss of biodiversity as two major threats to public health.

A bevy of medical journals co-wrote an open letter Sunday calling for immediate action to halt climate change for the sake of public health.

The letter, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is signed by the editorial leadership of several global medical journals and argues that the increase of global temperatures beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages and subsequent loss of biodiversity will risk “catastrophic” harm to global public health.

It cites higher temperatures specifically as a rising cause of health complications to people aged 65 years or older. The higher temperatures have shown to increase the severity and instance of dehydration, dermatological malignancies, tropical infections, adverse mental health outcomes, pregnancy complications and allergies.

The decline in crops and agricultural products related to anthropomorphic climate change is also cause for concern, especially surrounding global malnutrition. 

“Health professionals are united with environmental scientists, businesses, and many others in rejecting that this outcome is inevitable,” the letter reads.

Medical signatories outlined a plan of action, including prioritizing climate justice, or ensuring vulnerable communities who bear the brunt of the effects of climate change are protected.

Major governmental action is critical for these efforts. The letter notes that an unprecedented level of funding was issued during the economic fallout brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the signatories advocate major public investments in reducing emissions and improving air quality. 

“Huge investment will be needed, beyond what is being considered or delivered anywhere in the world. But such investments will produce huge positive health and economic outcomes,” the authors write.


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Published on Sep 07, 2021