9 August 2018
A report released this week on the dangers of heading towards “Hothouse Earth” makes it clear that climate change is now a public health emergency.
'Just as we would react to the threat of pandemic, we need to speed up our efforts to tackle emissions and protect health,' says Dr Rhys Jones, Co-convenor of OraTaio: The NZ Climate and Health Council.
The report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, states, 'the Earth System may be approaching a planetary threshold that could lock in a continuing, rapid pathway towards much hotter conditions — Hothouse Earth.'
'As health professionals, we urge the government to make stronger and more immediate targets to ensure New Zealand’s emissions decrease to net zero by 2040. We must base our decisions on climate science to make sure we do not breach dangerous tipping points. In order for us to safely reach zero emissions by 2040, much of the action is needed in the next crucial five to ten years.'
'The measures we take to reduce New Zealand's contribution to global warming can directly benefit the health of all New Zealanders. Well-designed climate action can bring about reductions in cardiovascular and respiratory disease, cancers, obesity, food insecurity and child poverty, as well as easing the financial pressures on the health sector.'
'The health risks of a Hothouse Earth mean that we must treat climate change as a public health emergency,' says Dr Jones.
Report published, 6 August 2018, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, "Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene": http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/07/31/1810141115