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Lancet Report Reveals Heat-related Deaths Witnessed A Rise Of 68% In 2 Decades

The report said that heatwaves caused devastation across continents and increased pressure on health services grappling with the effects of the pandemic.

Lancet study

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The number of heat-related deaths has increased by 68% between 2000-2004 and 2017 to 2021, reaching 3,10,000 deaths annually, a Lancet report has said. It said that the death toll was exacerbated by the confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study revealed that the vulnerable population (people older than 65 years and children younger than one year of age) were cumulatively exposed to 3.7 billion more heatwave days in 2021 than annually in 1986-2005. 

According to the Lancet report, extreme heatwaves caused devastation across each continent and increased pressure on health services already grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet study said that floods in Australia, Brazil, China, Western Europe, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, and South Sudan caused thousands of deaths and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. The floods in these nations resulted in economic losses. It further said that wildfire caused devastation in Canada, Greece, Alegria, US, Spain and Turkey. Furthermore, record temperatures were witnessed in many nations, including Australia, Canada, India, Italy, Oman, Türkiye, Pakistan, and the UK. It noted that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather and weather-related events. The report noted that the changing climate is impacting the spread of infectious diseases, posing a risk of emerging diseases and co-epidemics to people. 

"The global mean surface temperature is 1·1°C higher than the pre-industrial average, and the past seven years were the warmest on record.1 Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of many extreme weather and weather-related events, resulting in severe damage to the natural and social systems on which health depends," the Lancet report said. 

Fossil fuel dependence affects health of humans: Lancet report

The report highlighted that fossil fuel dependence in addition to undermining global health through increased climate change impacts also affects the health and well-being of humans directly through volatile and unpredictable fossil fuel markets. It noted that fossil fuel dependence has resulted in millions of people not having access to energy needs to keep their homes at healthy temperatures, preserve food and medication and meet the seventh Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). According to the report, an estimated 59% of healthcare facilities in low and middle-income nations do not have access to reliable electricity required to provide basic care. 

In 2021, people aged above 65 years in Canada witnessed a record 47 million more person-days of heatwaves (2·4 million in children under the age of 1 year) than annually in 1986–2005. It was caused mainly due to an unprecedented heatwave that was at least 150 times more likely to have occurred due to climate change.

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