Fossil fuel dependence risks current and future health
Over-reliance on fossil fuels is worsening the health impacts of global crises such as climate change, pandemics and food security, an international team of experts said on Wednesday (Oct 26) in a dire assessment of humanity's energy strategy.
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As health systems deal with the fallout of COVID-19, the analysis found that the vast majority of countries still allocate hundreds of billions of dollars to fossil fuel subsidies, often amounting to sums comparable to or greater than their health budgets.
The annual Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change found that extreme heat - made likelier by the global warming caused by fossil fuel emissions - was now leaving nearly 100 million additional people facing severe food insecurity, compared with the period of 2010-1981.
It said that the global land area affected by extreme drought had increased by nearly a third in the last 50 years, putting hundreds of millions of people at risk of water insecurity.
"Climate change is already having a negative impact on food security, with worrying implications for malnutrition and under-nourishment," said Elizabeth Robinson, director of the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics and a lead contributor to the Countdown.
"Further increases in temperature, frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and carbon dioxide concentrations, will put yet more pressure on availability of and access to nutritious food, especially for the most vulnerable."
Robinson said supply shocks triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February highlighted the world's susceptibility to food chain disruptions.