S.O.S climate: European health at risk

S.O.S climate: European health at risk

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The effects of climate change in progress make their growing weight felt, giving rise to numerous consequences: from the melting of glaciers to extreme weather events, passing through the danger of extinction of plant and animal species. But health is also being challenged by changes in the climate.

This was remembered by the same scientists who in recent days have asked politics to implement urgent interventions as soon as possible, especially to safeguard the health of Europeans.

Climate emergency: health risks

The appeal comes from scientists from the academies of the member states of the European Union, flanked by Norway and Switzerland. Based on several independent studies, the experts confirmed the risk of increased disease and premature deaths due to the effects of global warming and air pollution.

The new report of the Council of European Academies of Sciences (Easac) on the one hand it focuses attention on an "alarming range" of health risks and on the other on the economic benefits that would be produced with a decarbonisation of the economy.

The effects of greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gases are responsible for the increase in global temperatures, as well as making the air unbreathable. About 7 million people die prematurely every year in the world as a result of smog. Of these, 4 million are in the Pacific area while in Europe there are 350 thousand. In our country, on the other hand, 80 thousand is reached.

To these impressive figures are added the health costs incurred annually in Europe for the care of those who fall ill due to air pollution. A study conducted in 2018 byEuropean Public Health Alliance (EPHA) for example, it estimated that air pollution caused by vehicles alone costs Europe at least 70 billion euros a year in terms of medical treatment for lung and heart diseases. Three quarters of the damage is due to diesel engines.

Air pollution was also at the center of the recent World Environment Day which was held on June 5th as every year. Hosting the 2019 edition of the event was China, which currently stands out as the country of the "green turning point". The official slogan of the anniversary was precisely Air Pollution ", or rather "defeating atmospheric pollution".

Possible solutions

According to the EASAC scientists, the solutions to solve the current emergency are at hand but the political will is needed which up to now has neglected "the impacts of climate change on health". With current greenhouse gas emissions, academics point out, global average temperatures are expected to rise by more than 3 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. With what consequences? The world population will be exposed to unprecedented climate change, with high temperatures, runaway pollution, floods and drought.

All of this will result in an increase in diseases and premature mortality. The possible risks also include the weakening of food and nutritional security as well as the increase in the incidence of some infectious diseases, including those transmitted by mosquitoes. Finally, a growing risk of forced migration will add to the already gloomy picture. Europe therefore has the responsibility to tackle problems even outside its own area.

Scientists have provided some suggestions, highlighting in particular the need to adopt healthier and more sustainable diets, characterized by a greater consumption of fruit, vegetables and legumes and a reduced consumption of red meat. According to experts, this type of diet could help reduce the burden of greenhouse gas emissions and non-communicable diseases.

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