Author: Paul Brown
LONDON, 19 July, 2015 − The massive economic and health losses that climate change is already causing across the world are detailed in six scientific papers published today.
Perhaps most striking is the warning about large productivity losses already being experienced due to heat stress, which can already be calculated for 43 countries. The paper estimates that in South-East Asia alone “as much as 15% to 20% of annual work hours may already be lost in heat-exposed jobs”.
And that figure may double by 2030 as the planet continues warming − with poor manual labourers who work outdoors being the worst affected.
The release of the papers coincides with the start of a conference on disaster risk reduction, held in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, and jointly sponsored by the International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) and the UN Development Programme.
The aim is to alert delegates to the already pressing scale of the problem and the need to take measures to protect the health of people, and to outline the economic costs of not taking action.
Substantial health risks
In an introduction to the six-paper collection, UNU-IIGH research fellows Jamal Hisham Hashim and José Siri write that humanity faces “substantial health risks from the degradation of the natural life support systems which are critical for human survival. It has become increasingly apparent that actions to mitigate environmental change have powerful co-benefits for health.”