“Climate change poses an immediate, growing and grave threat to the health and security of people in both developed and developing countries around the globe,” Europe’s top medical leaders concluded at an international conference on the risks of global warming. At London’s Health and Security Perspectives on Climate Change conference, participants discussed how the destabilization of the global climate system is already hurting people’s health and security, with much greater threats to come:
Climate change leads to more frequent and extreme weather events and to conditions that favour the spread of infectious diseases. Rising sea levels, floods and droughts cause loss of habitat, water and food shortages, and threats to livelihood. These trigger conflict within and between countries. Humanitarian crises will further burden military resources through the need for rescue missions and aid. Mass migration will also increase, triggered by both environmental stress and conflict, thus leading to serious further security issues. It will often not be possible to adapt meaningfully to these changes, and the economic cost will be enormous. As in medicine, prevention is the best solution.
Signatories include the editors-in-chief of the British Medical Journal and Lancet, the chairman of the British Medical Association, the president of the Norwegian Medical Association, and the executive director of Greenpeace International.
In their statement, they call on the European Union to unilaterally adopt the climate target of a 30 percent reduction from 1990 levels in greenhouse pollution by 2020, and the rapid phasing out of coal plants.