Saturday, February 11, 2006

Global Warming a Major Health Risk - Scientists

ONDON - Global warming is already causing death and disease across the world through flooding, environmental destruction, heatwaves and other extreme weather events, scientists said on Thursday.

And it is likely to get worse.

In a review published in The Lancet medical journal, the scientists said there was now a near-unanimous scientific consensus that rising levels of greenhouse gases would cause global warming and other climate changes.

"The advent of changes in global climate signals that we are now living beyond the Earth's capacity to absorb a major waste product," said Anthony McMichael of the Australian National University in Canberra and his colleagues, referring to greenhouse gases.

The scientists' review of dozens of scientific papers over the last five years said health risks were likely to get worse over time as climate change and other environmental and social changes deepened.

"The resultant risks to health ... are anticipated to compound over time as climate change along with other large scale environmental and social changes continues," they wrote.

The review said climate change would bring changes in temperature, sea levels, rainfall, humidity and winds.

This would lead to an increase in death rates from heatwaves, infectious diseases, allergies, cholera as well as starvation due to failing crops.

They said climate change may already have led to lower production of food in some regions due to changes in temperature, rainfall, soil moisture, pests and diseases.

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