Monday, July 2, 2007

Climate change predicted to hit health hard in Asia-Pacific

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Rising temperatures are expected to have a huge impact on people's health in the Asia-Pacific region, causing more of everything from food poisoning to malaria, scientists said Monday.

Delegates at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, painted a bleak future for the health of those living in the world's most populous region if steps are not taken now to address climate change.

Scientists said droughts will lower crop yields and raise malnutrition in some areas, dust storms and wildfires will boost respiratory illnesses, and flooding from severe storms will increase drownings, injuries and disease.

"We have now reached a critical stage at which global warming has already seriously impacted the lives and health of the people," said Shigeru Omi, director of the World Health Organization's Western Pacific region.

"This problem will pose an even greater threat to mankind in coming decades if we fail to act now," he said.

Conference delegates, including officials from 16 countries, said it is important for policy-makers to understand the link between greenhouse gas emissions and health.

They called on countries to devote more resources to address health issues already plaguing the region to help lessen the blow as the effects of climate change become more dire. Tax incentives and pricing policies were suggested as a way to get companies and consumers to become more environmentally friendly.

Moving toward energy-efficient technologies and greener buildings — especially in large, rapidly developing countries such as India and China — can also make a difference.

Source : iht via Naturelle

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