Climate change exacerbates nearly two-thirds of pathogenic diseases affecting humans

Climate change is an unprecedented threat to human civilization as we know it. The large number of diseases sensitive to climate change and their numerous transmission routes present an insurmountable task for disease control in the absence of aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly revealed significant differences in the preparation for disease outbreaks worldwide, further emphasizing that humanity cannot currently prepare for the onslaught of multiple coinciding disease outbreaks exacerbated by climatic hazards. . Therefore, urgent action as a global community is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the effects of the increased incidence, transmission and geographic spread of rarer and more serious diseases.

We present a conservative estimate for diseases exacerbated by climatic hazards, as our findings are limited to what has been previously documented. For example, rare diseases and outbreaks in rural or impoverished areas are historically not well documented. In addition, disease outbreaks among indigenous populations are often undocumented, while these groups disproportionately face some of the strongest impacts of climate change.3. But even with conservative estimates, the message is clear: greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced. The large body of evidence for many diseases exacerbated by climate change, case examples and transmission routes show that the consequences of continuing with the ‘business as usual’ scenario will have serious consequences for human health.

Tristan McKenzie
1
and Isabella M. Gaw
2
1
Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
2
Department of Life Sciences, University of Hawai’i in Mānoa, Honolulu, HI, USA.

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