Climate change a risk to health say doctors

Canberra [AAP]

Doctors and scientists fear global warming will lead to more disease, death and violent conflicts as nations fight for food and water.

In a new report, 60 researchers warn climate change will have devastating impacts on the health of Australians as the world warms by a predicted minimum of two degrees over the next century.

They fear extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and cyclones will affect Australia’s food security while ecosystem changes will increase diseases such as dengue and E.coli.

‘The world therefore faces a future in which billions of people will be hungry or homeless or both and no nation will be able to avoid the consequences,’ the authors state.

That could result in an eruption of violent conflicts as tensions over food, water and uninhabitable land boil over within and among countries.

It could also mean increased migration and degraded mental health, the report says.

It’s not just extreme events such as cyclones the researchers fear – it’s also heatwaves that threaten to kill thousands of elderly Australians, children and those with chronic illnesses.

According to federal government figures, 374 people died from heat-related problems in the week before the Black Saturday fires in Victoria.

That’s more than double the 173 who perished in the actual fires.

The report recommends more be done to prepare for global warming, including increasing research and implementing a credible climate policy that focuses on emissions reduction targets.

Australia is aiming to slash emissions by five per cent by 2020

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