Climate change expected to increase deaths rates

Maxwell Awumah, GNA

Hohoe (V/R), Aug 2, GNA – A new study from the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill estimates that climate change, if
left unaddressed, is expected to cause roughly 60,000 deaths globally in the
year 2030.

This could further reach 260,000 deaths in
2100 due to climate change’s effect on global air pollution.

The study, to appear in the July 31 advance
online issue of Nature Climate Change, 
and made available to the Ghana News Agency, adds to growing evidence
that the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be
overwhelmingly negative.

It is also the most comprehensive study yet on
how climate change will affect health via air pollution, since it makes use of
results from several of the world’s top climate change modeling groups.

Dr Jason West, who led the research at
UNC-Chapel Hill with former graduate student and first author Raquel Silva,
said “As climate change affects air pollutant concentrations, it can have
a significant impact on health worldwide, adding to the millions of people who
die from air pollution each year.”

Hotter temperatures speed up the chemical
reactions that create air pollutants like ozone and fine particulate matter,
which impacts public health.

Locations that get drier may also have worse
air pollution because of less removal by rain, and increased fires and
windblown dust.

As trees respond to higher temperatures, they
will also emit more organic pollutants.

West and Silva used an ensemble of several
global climate models to determine the number of premature deaths that would
occur due to ozone and particulate matter in 2030 and 2100.

It said for each model, the team assessed the
projected changes in ground-level air pollution that could be attributed to
future climate change.

They then overlaid these changes spatially on
the global population, accounting for both population growth and expected
changes in susceptibility to air pollution.

In aggregate, West and Silva found that
climate change is expected to increase air pollution-related deaths globally
and in all world regions except for Africa.

Specifically, five out of eight models
predicted there will be more premature deaths in 2030, and seven of nine models
in 2100.

“Our finding that most models show a
likely increase in deaths is the clearest signal yet that climate change will
be detrimental to air quality and health,” said West, associate professor
of environmental sciences and engineering in the UNC Gillings School of Global
Public Health.

“We also collaborated with some of the
world’s top climate modeling groups in the United States, United Kingdom,
France, Japan and New Zealand, making this study the most comprehensive yet on
the issue.”

In addition to exacerbating air
pollution-related deaths, climate change is expected to affect one’s health
through changes in heat, stress, access to clean water and food, severe storms
and the spread of infectious diseases.


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