President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord seems to have endangered human life.
Under the climate agreement, the United States agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. However, last week president Trump withdrew the United States’ participation in the nonbinding accord saying it left the country at an economic disadvantage because it, and other wealthier nations, would fund climate actions in developing countries.
A 2015 study found that a rise in the average summer temperature of just under 2 degrees Fahrenheit led to a 1 percent higher death rate in New England. Also, heat can raise blood pressure and worsen cholesterol levels. Longer, hotter summers can aid the spread of mosquitoes that carry diseases such as malaria, dengue, Zika, and yellow fever; warmer winters may fail to kill off populations of said insects.
In addition to what was mentioned before, an emerging environmental health threat is the decline in global freshwater resources, caused mainly by increasing rates of water extraction and contamination. Various studies claim that climate change is expected to worsen this decline in water quality and quantity, particularly in already dry regions such as the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa.
Public health advocates and healthcare providers have roundly criticized Trump's decision, saying the withdrawal from the agreement ignores growing evidence of the short- and long-term health effects of climate change.
“Climate change needs to be aggressively addressed on a global level, and the Paris accord is central to this effort”, stated Dr. Jack Ende, the president of the American College of Physicians.
He added that without U.S. leadership, achieving the voluntary targets agreed on by the 195 countries that signed the accord will be far more difficult. “Today’s decision therefore greatly increases the chances that the global effort to reduce carbon emissions will be insufficient to avert catastrophic consequences for human health”, also stated Ende.
“The Paris Agreement is science-based and emphasizes clean energy and pollution reduction, which will improve health immediately and is a crucial tool with the potential to reduce the odds of more dramatic harms to health down the road”, added Dr. Mona Sarfaty, head of the Virginia-based investigation group, which includes the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, and others.
Finally, it is important to understand that healthcare has the potential to help lead the way for our energy future and change the narrative about addressing climate change to one that's focused on the wellbeing of the people and of the planet. Let´s see what the future brings.
LatinAmerican Post | Luisa Fernanda Baez
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto