Is climate change a serious threat to human health?
Simple logic would suggest the answer is yes, a point that the Obama administration is using to build support for the president’s effort to make climate change a centerpiece of his final months in office.
A White House report listed deepening risks. Asthma will worsen, heat-related deaths will rise, and the number and traveling range of insects carrying diseases once confined to the tropics will increase.
In 2000, the first National Climate Assessment, a government document weaving together the best evidence on climate change, had just 21 pages on health. The most recent assessment included a special section on health that filled more than 400 pages.
Two peer-reviewed British journals — Philosophical Transactions B and The Lancet — have dedicated many pages to the topic this year. Europeans, unburdened by the level of political controversy over climate change in the United States, often give more conclusive interpretations of the science.
“We are in a far more certain place now,” said Nick Watts of the University College London Institute for Global Health and a co-author of the Lancet analysis. “We feel very comfortable talking about direct effects of climate change on health.”