A major report from one of the world’s best-known medical journals declared climate change a “medical emergency” that could undo decades of health progress.
The report, published Monday night in The Lancet, said the threat posed by climate change has largely been underestimated thus far.
“Climate change is a medical emergency,” Hugh Montgomery, director of the University College London Institute for Human Health and Performance and co-chairman of the commission responsible for the report, said in a statement.
“It thus demands an emergency response, using the technologies available right now,” he said.
The analysis predicts that more people than previously thought will be exposed to risks such as floods, droughts, heat waves and other extreme weather events in the future due to climate change.
When compared with the 1990s, four times as many people will be exposed to extreme rainfall and three times as many will experience drought in 2100, The Lancet said.
Peter Cox, a climate systems professor at University of Exeter in Britain, said the report’s authors set out to focus exclusively on the direct and indirect health impacts from a warming globe.
“We are saying, let’s look at climate change from the perspective of what people are going to experience, rather than as averages across the globe,” Cox told The New York Times. “We have to move away from thinking of this as a problem in atmospheric physics. It is a problem for people.”
About 3 billion more elderly people will be exposed to heat waves at the end of the century compared to 1990, the report found.