With a view to a new global report on climate change and health, German physicians called for a national heat protection plan. The frequency, duration and intensity of heat waves continue to increase, warned Klaus Reinhardt, President of the German Medical Association, at a press conference in Berlin.
This would require better prepared emergency services, clinics, nursing homes. The health effects of climate change would not be felt at some point in distant parts of the world, but here and now.
The medical journal The Lancet presented a global report on the relationship between climate change and health on Thursday. Half a month before the UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid, experts will assess current and future impacts. Go the CO2 emissions continue as before, a child born today will live on average on his 71st birthday in a four degrees warmer world, it says. Climate change is already damaging the health of many people.
"The issue of health has long been irrelevant to climate change," said Sabine Gabrysch, Professor of Climate Change and Health at the Berlin Charité. That changed. Even today, effects are felt in this country, as shown by an additional report by scientists for Germany.
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According to an analysis by Helmholtz Zentrum München, there are already more heart attacks and deaths due to cardiovascular diseases on hot days. According to the "Lancet" study, the problem can reach completely different dimensions: If nothing changes in the emission of greenhouse gases, the researchers expect five additional heat waves annually in northern Germany and up to 30 more in southern Germany by the end of this century.
In retirement and nursing homes, more people will be needed in the future, for example, to ensure that seniors drink enough, said Reinhardt. In addition to heat stroke otherwise threatened acute renal failure due to dehydration. The most at risk of heat, in addition to older people, are infants, the chronically ill and workers in the open air, including construction workers and farmers. "We see it as our medical duty to clearly name these effects and demand appropriate measures."
West Nile Fever, Dengue and Zika reach Europe
Ticks and mosquitoes play an increasing role as transmitters of tropical infectious diseases with rising temperatures in our latitudes. This year, West Nile fever was first detected in humans in Germany. Those affected did not get infected with the virus when traveling abroad, but at the bite of local mosquitoes. Zika infections by local tiger mosquitoes were first reported from southern France. The mosquitoes can also transmit dengue and chikungunya.
For Sebastian Ulbert of the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology in Leipzig, German doctors must increasingly have "on screen" mosquito-borne pathogens. "This year, for example, most West Nile virus infections went undetected because of flu-like symptoms no one thought about this pathogen." Necessary training and good test systems.
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Allergy researcher Torsten Zuberbier from the Charité in Berlin welcomes the report. However, he lacks an important aspect: Due to climate change, pollen has also increased and extended the heyday. In addition, allergenic plant species such as Ambrosia in Europe continued to spread.
Another growing problem, according to "Lancet", is a group of bacteria called vibrios, also found in the Baltic Sea. The pathogens can cause gastrointestinal and wound infections. Since the 1980s, due to higher water temperatures, the number of days that could be infected with vibrations in the Baltic Sea has doubled, according to the report. In 2018 it was 107 days.
Children are the hardest hit in the world
Global climate change has hit children hardest, said Nick Watts, head of the international Lancet consortium. For example, crop failures and the resulting malnutrition are the worst. In addition, people in 77 percent of the countries are increasingly struggling with forest fires and similar fires.
If, on the other hand, global warming were limited to 1.5 degrees - as requested in the Paris Climate Agreement - and if promises made by the federal states were respected, the situation was better for the future, the researchers said.