Published Date: Mar 20, 2012
GLOBAL WARMING INCREASES MORTALITY: NCSE DIRECTOR
Global warming is now a reality, as is evident from the increase in global average atmospheric and oceanic temperatures and widespread melting of snow and ice.
This was stated by National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) Director of International Programmes and Board Manager Dr Karim Ahmed during a special lecture on ‘Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health’ organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Monday.
Dr Karim said one of the most serious consequences of climate change was its impact on human health and welfare, adding that the World Health Organisation estimates that around 150,000 deaths annually across the globe can be attributed to climate change.
He also stressed on policy makers in the region to seriously consider reducing the role of Black Carbon (BC) significantly formed by cooking sources in Asian countries, including Pakistan, which also contributes to the indoor air pollution. He said: “Black Carbon is now believed to be a major contributor towards global warming.” He suggested that stoves that use traditional fuel, like wood and dung, be replaced with alternative technologies, such as smokeless stoves and solar cookers.
While elaborating on some of the negative impacts of climate change on human health, he said rising temperatures and more frequent droughts and floods can compromise food security. He added that an increase in severe malnutrition was expected, especially in those countries where large populations depend on rain-fed subsistence farming.
“Extreme weather events mean more potential deaths and injuries caused by storms and floods. In addition, flooding can be followed by disease outbreaks especially when water and sanitation services are damaged or destroyed,” he added. He discussed scarcity of water and excess water due to more frequent and torrential rainfall, saying he feared an increase in malaria as well as diarrhoeal diseases due to changed climatic patterns.
He stated that heat waves, especially in urban “heat islands”, can directly increase morbidity and mortality, mainly in elderly people with cardiovascular or respiratory disease.
He added that in view of the present international impasse by developed countries in agreeing to mandatory curbs on greenhouse gas emissions, it is increasingly apparent that many countries in developing regions will need to consider well-planned adaptation policies and practical measures to address local and regional impacts of climate change in the future.