Climate Change and Global Health

Lancet confirms that tackling climate change is the greatest opportunity for improving global health. A truly incredible message but not one that has general recognition with climate change “laggards” such as Canada and the United States.  The reason for this lack of recognition may be that most of these health improvements will flow to third world countries.

Authors Kesetebirhan Admasu, Kare Debessa (respectively The Minister of Health and State Minister for the Government of Ethiopia) identify the real problems facing Africa: severe heat, crop failures and the spread of infectious diseases. They see the possibility that with improved economic development many African countries could transition directly to sustainable energy generation. They referred to the rapid growth rate of Ethiopia that could lead to a sustainable green economy by 2025.

Helena Wang and Richard Horton detail how Lancet recommendations could lead to improved health outcomes even in the very short term.

  • Phasing out of coal generated electricity will significantly improve the cardio respiratory health of citizens.
  • Active transportation will result in decreased road deaths and improved heart health for all.
  • Locally controlled sustainable energy generation will lead to improved economic prospects for low-income countries.

These are all reasons why developed nations must support the Green Climate Fund.  But this fund is a long way short of the total amount needed.

Laudato Si (The Papal Encyclical) stated:

“The lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded.” (extract from paragraph 25)

Is Pope Francis right that our capitalist system blinkers us to the distress of the poor in developing countries?

Last of a series of commentaries on the Lancet Commission Report by Georgina Wilcock M.D.



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