A new Lancet study has said that during 2021 and 2022, extreme weather events caused devastation across every continent, already grappling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It further said that floods in Australia, Brazil, China, western Europe, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, and South Sudan caused thousands of deaths, displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and caused billions of dollars in economic losses.
Globally, heat-related mortality for people older than 65 years increased by approximately 68 per cent between 2000-04 and 2017-21, the Lancet study further said.”At 1.1 degrees Celsius of heating, climate change is increasingly undermining every pillar of good health and compounding the health impacts of the current COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical conflicts. The health harms of extreme heat exposure are rising, affecting mental health, undermining the capacity to work and exercise,” the study said.
Due to the rapidly increasing temperatures, the elderly and children younger than 1 year of age were exposed to 3.7 billion more heatwave days in 2021 than annually in 1986-2005. Talking about this year’s heatwave in South Asia, the Lancet said in the study that between March and April, India and Pakistan experienced a heatwave that was 30 times more likely to have happened because of climate change.
“The changing climate is exacerbating the risk of infectious disease outbreaks and threatening global food security, with heatwave days associated with 98 million more people experiencing food insecurity in 2020 than in 1981-2010, the study said. He said climate and health emergencies were the result of a “deep failure” by governments to recognise the urgent need to work towards a zero-carbon world.
It said that the global land area affected by extreme drought had increased by nearly a third in the last 50 years, putting hundreds of millions of people at risk of water insecurity. “Climate change is already having a negative impact on food security, with worrying implications for malnutrition and under-nourishment,” said Elizabeth Robinson, director of the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics and a lead contributor to the Countdown.