Sadly, climate change is progressing rapidly and is likely to be the greatest public health threat of this century according to the Lancet Commission on Climate Change and Health. Human emissions of greenhouse gas have already caused Earth’s average temperature to rise by 1.8°F. This summer during the hottest June ever recorded, the hottest temperature ever recorded by scientific instruments occurred in Furnace Creek, Death Valley, California where the temperature was 130°F. During the same heat wave, Lytton, B.C., Canada recorded the hottest temperature ever in Canada at 121°F. Between 600-700 more people died (compared to normal death rate) in the northwestern United States during this Pacific heat wave and it is estimated that 2 billion sea organisms also died.
A recent study (Science 374: 1558-160, October 8, 2021) revealed that a person 6 years old in 2020 will experience twice as many wildfires and tropical cyclones, three times more floods, four times more crop failures, five times more droughts, and 36 times more heat waves in his/her lifetime than a person of age 60 in 2020 if the average global temperature continues to increase at today’s rate.
Drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are the hope for our future and those of our children and grandchildren. If greenhouse gas emissions can reach zero by 2050, most of the harmful consequences of climate destabilization can be avoided. Rapid emissions reductions to safeguard health have been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.