The growing heat and the more volatile climate change climate make it "the biggest global threat to 21st century health", with hundreds of millions more people in the last two decades, medical officials warned on Wednesday.
In a compelling report published by the medical journal The Lancet, scientists and health experts said the impacts of climate change – from heatwaves to worsening storms, floods and fires – were increasing and threatening to overwhelm health systems.
"It's what really keeps me awake at night," said Nick Watts, executive director of The Lancet Countdown, an annual report analyzing the links between public health and climate change.
Storms and floods, for example, not only cause direct injuries, but can also shut down hospitals, cause epidemics, and cause persistent mental health problems as people lose their homes, he said. .
Similarly, forest fires have injured and uprooted people, but they have also dramatically worsened air pollution in large areas.
The Lancet Report, written by doctors, academics and policy experts from 27 organizations around the world, called for swift action to tackle climate change and prepare global health systems for growing challenges.
"A rapidly changing climate has adverse consequences for all aspects of human life, exposing vulnerable populations to extreme weather conditions, altering patterns of infectious diseases and compromising food security, clean water and sanitation. Pure air, "he warned.