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Climate change causing deaths worldwide

Families wade waist high in flood water in the Philippines, to receive family pack distributions

A report from the Global Humanitarian Forum1 asserts that more than 300,000 people are dying each year and millions more endure ill health as a result of climate change. The report predicts that by 2030, the annual death toll could rise to 500,000, with 660 million people seriously affected, making it the "biggest emerging humanitarian challenge in the world."

The report says that global warming is leading to increased desertification, rising sea levels and many weather related disasters, which create conditions in which disease flourishes. The biggest cause of death from climate change is malnutrition, with an estimated 150,000 deaths per year and a further 45 million people affected. Diarrhoea, linked mainly to problems with water quality and quantity, affects 180 million people a year and causes 95,000 deaths. Climate change is also thought to be responsible for 55,000 deaths from malaria a year, and a further 10 million people a year catch the disease.

The impact is greatest on women, young people and older people. Women account for two thirds of the world's poor and also make up seven out of 10 agricultural workers. More than 90% of deaths from malnutrition and diarrhoea occur in children aged 5 years or under. The areas most prone to climate change, according to the latest findings, are Africa, South Asia, parts of the Middle East, and many small islands in the Pacific.

Show footnotes

1Cole A (2009). Climate change could cause half a million deaths a year by 2030, warns report. British Medical Journal, 6th of June, volume 338, pp 1348-1349

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Reference this page

Climate change causing deaths worldwide. Field Exchange 37, November 2009. p23. www.ennonline.net/fex/37/climate