What's the greatest threat to public health in the world today? HIV/AIDs (which is still killing huge numbers of people yearly)? Ebola? MERS? Cancer? Chemical pollution? Malnutrition?
All arguable positions. But, according to a new report from the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate, it's none of these. It's climate change.
The new report makes note of the fact that very likely the most "bang for buck" with regards to protecting public health would be the addressing of climate change and the reduction of fossil fuel use. The report also makes mention of the fact that such use can be reduced (at least partially) through an increase in renewable energy use.
The senior scientist & deputy director of the Science Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Kim Knowlton, commented on the new report:
“The Lancet report underscores the terrible consequences for human health if we don’t start reducing the dangerous carbon pollution fueling climate change -- and dramatic benefits for people the world over from taking action now.
“We can save countless lives, reduce the spread of disease and ensure a secure food supply even as we continue expanding clean energy that will lead to cleaner air and a healthier future for people in every part of the world. Our children and future generations are counting on us.’’
While my personal views aren't as "optimistic" as those presented by Knowlton, the longer the transition away from fossil fuels is put off, the harsher and "crazier" the weather is going to get over the coming decades. The sooner effective action is taken, the better with regards to human health.