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Munich – In the third part of its 6th inventory, published late yesterday afternoon, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issues a clear warning of rising greenhouse gas emissions for years: the target of 1.5°C announced in the Paris climate agreement of 2015 remains to be achieved, drastic measures are needed very quickly.
Because the window of time that still remains for humanity to avoid catastrophic climatic risks is closing visibly. If left unused, there is a risk that the earth will warm up by well over 2°C – with devastating effects on human health and the basis of life.
The second part of the 6th inventory, published at the end of February by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, addresses, among other things, the effects of global warming on human health.
“Climate change directly and indirectly threatens the basis of life on earth. It has negative health effects that will increase in the future and promotes hunger, poverty, inequality and migration,” said Franziska Matthies-Wiesler from Helmholtz Zentrum München. german doctorssheet. “The report highlights that cities are increasingly becoming hotspots of climate risk and impact.”
For Europe and for Germany, particular emphasis is placed on heat, which poses a health risk, especially for the elderly and pre-existing, and which can lead to heat-related deaths from stroke. heat and the consequences of cardiovascular disease.
“In contrast to previous reports, Part II of the 6th IPCC report places an unequivocal focus on the risks to human well-being and the health of the planet and emphasizes the links between climate, biodiversity and humans,” Matthies-Wiesler said.
Persistent heat waves
“Projections indicate that climate change will lead to hotter days and more persistent heat waves, characterized by higher frequency and intensity, longer duration and an earlier time in the year,” explains the biologist. “In addition, the population in Germany is aging and more and more people are living in cities, which means that heat vulnerability is increasing.”
Germany-wide temperature models showed an increase in the number of hot days per year with temperatures above 30°C over the years, but with regional differences.
“The increase in so-called tropical nights, in which the nocturnal cooling that is important for sleep and health is lacking, is also particularly important,” explains Matthies-Wiesler. “Along with hot days and heat waves, they affect cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, cognitive and mental health functions.”
Rapid reduction of emissions
“The 6th Assessment Report expressly underlines that social decisions and actions over the next ten years will determine how much climate resilience we can achieve in the medium to long term,” Matthies-Wiesler stressed.
“The report finds that accelerated adaptation is just as necessary as rapid and deep reductions in emissions. Accordingly, political commitment and immediate and coordinated global action to protect the climate, biodiversity and ecosystems are needed before the window closes for climate-resilient global development and a future worth living on earth.
Who is now responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere? “The danger to people’s health is so great that everyone must get involved to overcome the crisis: political decision-makers, actors from various sectors – including the health sector – and private companies as well as every citizen”, said said Matthies-Wiesler. .
Climate protection is health protection
His colleague Alexandra Schneider insists on the co-benefits of a climate-friendly life for health. “A healthy diet with little or no meat and lots of fruits and vegetables promotes health and helps prevent various diseases, but is also good for the climate and the environment,” Schneider said.
Active mobility, i.e. cycling and walking – for example to get to work or school – also helps to promote health while reducing air pollution and gas emissions Greenhouse effect.
“The benefits of lifestyle changes that protect both health and climate should be emphasized much more frequently and clearly,” says Schneider. The medical profession can also make a major contribution.
“Physicians can actively contribute to both climate protection and adaptation, raise awareness among their patients, act as multipliers, set a good example, continue their training on the subject and get involved in networks”, a- she pointed out.
Doctors play an important role
“Because CO2-the footprint of the healthcare sector in Germany is considerable, reducing it is an important contribution to climate protection,” explained Matthies-Wiesler. “Doctors have a variety of levers in clinics and practices to contribute to climate protection there.”
Options ranged from changing catering for staff and patients in hospital settings to avoiding certain anesthetic gases and using climate-friendly inhalers for asthma sprays to energy and structural measures on buildings.
Physicians also play an important role in climate adaptation, for example in implementing heat action plans to protect health, says Matthies-Wiesler.
Among other things, it is important here that they advise their patients appropriately before and during the summer about preventive care, what to do on hot days and, if necessary, about taking medication. During heat waves, direct contact with particularly vulnerable patients is important in order to check their well-being and their heat stress at home. © fos/aerzteblatt.de