- Heatwaves are becoming more frequent as global temperatures rise
- It is leading to disease carrying mosquitoes increasing their range
- World has seen a 46% global increase in weather-related disasters since 2000
Climate change is already harming millions of people around the world and will become the biggest health threat of the 21st century, experts have warned.
Heatwaves are becoming more frequent as global temperatures rise, disease-carrying mosquitoes are increasing their range and crops are failing as the world warms up, according to a major report in the Lancet medical journal.
The 50-page report, written by 26 organisations including University College London and the Royal College of Physicians, chronicles the impact of environment patterns on human health.
Heatwaves are becoming more frequent as global temperatures rise, disease-carrying mosquitoes are increasing their range and crops are failing as the world warms up (stock image)
For Britain, climate change is not yet having a big impact – even though heatwaves are linked to the deaths of up to 3,000 people a year.
But for the rest of the world climate change is already having a big effect on human health, the researchers said.
The world has seen a 46 per cent global increase in weather-related disasters since 2000, they calculated. Heatwaves are a particular problem, hitting an additional 125million elderly people in the past 16 years as they increased in frequency.
Transmission of dengue fever has increased 10 per cent since the 1950s, as mosquitoes have been able to increase their range due to warming temperatures.
Professor Hugh Montgomery, of University College London, said: ‘This is the major health threat of the 21st century.
‘We are only just beginning to feel the impacts of climate change.’
The UN’s weather agency yesterday said carbon dioxide had hit its highest level in potentially three million years.
The last time it was this high, sea levels were up to 65ft higher than they are now, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. The ‘record-breaking’ rise in carbon dioxide has been blamed on greenhouse gas emissions and the El Nino climate phenomenon.