Climate Change

Published on November 30th, 2014 | by James Ayre


WHO Report: Climate Change To Cause 250,000 “Extra Deaths” A Year By 2030

November 30th, 2014 by  

Image Credit: Climate Change via Flickr CCClimate change will be the cause of roughly 250,000 “extra” deaths a year by 2030, according to a recent report from the World Health Organization quantifying the future impacts of the changing climate on human health.

Of this figure, roughly 48,000 will be via diarrhea; 60,000 via malaria; 95,000 via under-nutrition during childhood; and 38,000 via heat exposure (the elderly mostly) — according to the new report.

“Our planet is losing its capacity to sustain human life in good health,” stated Dr Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO). “Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its most disturbing report to date, with a strong focus on the consequences for health.”

As the report notes, the general consensus amongst researchers is that the effects of climate change will be “overwhelmingly negative” — with these extreme negatives appearing in full force sometime before the year 2050.

Dr Chan continued: “Debates about climate change are still not giving sufficient attention to the profound effects that climate variables have on health. Many of the world’s most worrisome diseases have transmission cycles that are profoundly shaped by conditions of heat and humidity and patterns of rainfall. As one important example, malaria parasites and the mosquitoes that transmit them are highly sensitive to climate variability, which has been repeatedly linked to epidemics.”


On the subject of heat-related deaths, it’s worth making note of the European/French heatwave of 2003, which caused at least 14,800 deaths in France over a very short period of time. The total estimated death toll of the event is estimated to be over 70,000.

“Other epidemic-prone diseases, like cholera, dengue, and bacterial meningitis, are likewise highly sensitive to climate variability. All of these diseases have a huge potential for social disruption and make huge logistical demands on response teams.”

When taken together with the other mounting/approaching issues of our time — large-scale migration, diminishing agricultural productivity, resource scarcity — the climate-related spread of tropical diseases is likely to be made even more pronounced.

It’s worth noting that many of the largest epidemics/pandemics of history have been closely associated with the large-scale migrations of people.

A public health “expert” by the name of Tony McMichael was quoted in an article by the Climate Change Institute in Australia, stating: “The symptoms we already see in people beleaguered by bushfire, storms, floods, and drought are the early warming signs. The risks to physical and mental health, as well as community morale, mount with every year we fail to act decisively. Yet, there is still time to avoid much additional human suffering, to realise the health benefits of action, and to restore hope.”

No doubt there. But pressures do seem to be building, and a big storm does seem to be approaching on the horizon.


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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Scaremongering. They should be ashamed.

    I would want to focus on the deaths caused by pollution/particulates. That is something we have direct control over and in a relatively short time frame. Controlling global temperatures isn’t something we can be sure of and will take a long time to ‘turn the ship around’ if it is in fact feasible.

    • Bob_Wallace

      We’ve already impacted weather systems and changed climates.

      It would be stupid make the problem worse. Luckily for us a lot of what we need to do to slow climate change also cuts pollution/particulates.

      Two bangs for our bucks.

      • Agreed. The premise is what I have an issue with. Global warming is gradual and therefore easy to adjust to thanks to the technology we have. The deaths they refer to in France and other places are due to an abnormally hot dry summer. For the sake of argument lets say it was 10 degrees F hotter last year for a few weeks in France. That’s what killed people because they weren’t prepared for it. The globe doesn’t warm up 10F in one year.

        Focus on particulates and the dumping of toxins and we’ll be fine.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Global warming won’t be easy to slow at all. It means replacing most of the world’s coal, natural gas and petroleum use with clean energy. It’s a massive problem that will likely take us 40 years to get mostly done. And that’s if we start working much harder than we are.

          The globe won’t warm up quickly on a 24/365 basis, but what the climate scientists tell us that the weather will get wilder. We’ll have more heat waves, and they’ll last longer. We’ll have more floods, more droughts and. at least for a while, more nasty winter weather.

          Imagine what happens to the cost of food if we regularly have the sort of droughts that hit Texas cattle and California produce over the last few years. Or floods that mess with grain production in the Midwest.

          We’ve apparently already screwed up the jet stream pattern and that seems to have brought us longer heat waves and the Polar Vortex. (It will take a few more years to get enough data to be certain.)

  • rockyredneck

    Not so much when compared to the deaths already being caused by armed conflict in the world. The war machines produce a lot of GHG and other pollutants a well. Perhaps we should put more effort into solving more immediate and obvious problems instead of what may happen in the future. After all, it is the present which is the key to the future.

  • Larry

    “Many of the world’s most worrisome diseases have transmission cycles
    that are profoundly shaped by conditions of heat and humidity and
    patterns of rainfall.” Might the persistence and virulence of the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa have a climate connection too? Researchers seem to be mystified why this outbreak has been so persistent and has spread to such a large geographical area.

    • Bob_Wallace

      This is only my opinion, not based on any sort of data –

      In the part of Africa where Ebola has been such a problem lately it seems that there is a lot more physical contact, hugging and handshaking are apparently very common. That could easily bring people into “sneeze range” for easier transmission of bodily fluids.

      Also there is a traditionally a lot of contact with the bodies of the deceased. The women (I think I’ve got this right) do the cleaning and preparation for the funeral. In a funeral home as we use there would be routine use of masks and gloves.

      Then there’s simply the problem of many people having no reasonable access to health care or information. Families caring for their own sick while not have even basics like a mask, gloves or some bleach would be at very high risk.

      The climate change diseases are more about vector insects expanding their territories. Of course at one time malaria was common in the US as far north as Washington, DC and into Illinois (IIRC). We’ve seen that mosquito before.

  • Will E

    why 2030. happening now is my opinion.

  • Matt

    of course this is a small number compare to what coal already causes thru its externals so will have zero impact on policy.

  • JamesWimberley

    The health costs are part of GDP as currently measured. It’s a simple mistake to ignore them. These are externalities, but not the kind that don’t have a market price: extinctions of species, fear, forced migration.

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