Climate-driven extreme events will cause a significant increase in ill-health and premature deaths, the latest IPCC report has said, as experts paint a grim picture of the impact of global warming.
The report has further observed a shift in the distribution of malaria and dengue to higher altitude areas.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its 6th assessment report on ‘Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’ online Monday.
In India, the IPCC has projected changes in the spatial distribution of malaria, warning of potential outbreaks in the Himalayan region, besides the southern and the eastern states. As temperatures rise, the number of months suitable for transmission of Malaria will grow, the report says, although in some areas transmission of the vector-borne disease will fall by the 2030s.
“With rainfall patterns changing, the range and distribution of vector borne diseases is changing alongwith it, as well as the vector’s ability to breed longer. As temperatures rise, the diseases are shifting northwards to higher altitudes such as towards the Himalayas,’’ said Dr Chandni Singh of The Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), who is one of the authors of the report’s Asia chapter.
As temperatures become too hot in some lowland tropical areas for the Malaria vector to thrive, however, the report predicts an increase in diseases such as dengue and zika.
In South and Southeast Asia, the report says, rising temperatures will also cause an adverse impact on availability and prices of food, leading to increased undernourishment. Besides, mental health challenges, including anxiety and stress, will grow, affecting particularly the young and the elderly, and those with underlying conditions.
“The impacts of climate change will increasingly occur at the same time and interact with each other and with other risks, with increasingly dangerous consequences. For example, increased heat and drought will combine to harm food production and reduce agricultural labour productivity, which will increase food prices and reduce farmers’ incomes, leading to more malnutrition and death, especially in tropical regions,’’ says the report.
With more frequent hot days and intense heat-waves, the report says, heat-related deaths will increase in Asia.
“In addition to all-cause mortality, deaths related to circulatory, respiratory, diabetic and infectious disease, as well as infant mortality are increased with high temperature. Increases in heavy rain
and temperature will increase the risk of diarrheal diseases, dengue fever and malaria in tropical and sub-tropical Asia,’’ it says.
The report finds the Spring pollen season start dates in northern mid-latitudes are occurring earlier due to climate change, increasing the risks of allergic respiratory diseases.
“Increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and climate change are projected to increase diet-related risk factors and related non-communicable diseases globally, and increase undernutrition, stunting, and related childhood mortality particularly in Africa and Asia,” says the IPCC report.
Higher atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide reduce the nutritional quality of wheat, rice, and other major crops, “potentially affecting millions of people at a doubling of carbon dioxide,’’ it added.