New Delhi: Climate change may take six months off the average human lifespan, according to a study which found that women and individuals in developing nations are disproportionately affected. The study, published recently in the journal PLOS Climate, evaluated average temperature, rainfall, and life expectancy data from 191 countries from 1940–2020. In addition to measuring the isolated impacts of temperature and rainfall, the researchers designed a first-of-its-kind composite climate change index, which combines the two variables to gauge the overarching severity of climate change.
Results indicate that in isolation, a global temperature increase of 1 degree Celsius is associated with an average human life expectancy decrease of approximately 0.44 years, or about six months and one week.
A 10-point increase in the composite climate change index—which accounts for both temperature and rainfall—is expected to decrease the average life expectancy by six months, the researchers said.
Women and individuals in developing nations are disproportionately affected, they said.
“The global threat posed by climate change to the well-being of billions underscores the urgent need to address it as a public health crisis, as revealed by this study,” said Amit Roy from Shahjalal University of Science and Technology in Bangladesh and The New School for Social Research, U.S.
The study emphasises that “mitigation efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and proactive initiatives are essential to safeguard life expectancy and protect the health of populations worldwide,” Roy added.
Temperature and rainfall—two telltale signals of climate change—cause myriad public health concerns, from the acute and direct (e.g., natural disasters like flooding and heat waves) to the indirect yet equally devastating (e.g., respiratory and mental illnesses), the researchers said.
While impacts like these are observable and well documented, existing research has not established a direct link between climate change and life expectancy, they said.
The team is hopeful that the composite climate change index will standardise the global conversation about climate change, become a usable metric for the nonscientific public and encourage collaboration and even friendly competition among countries to combat the impacts of climate change.
Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a changing environment are of particular importance, the researchers said.
To complement this large-scale approach, they suggest localised future studies that consider specific severe weather events (e.g., wildfires, tsunamis, and floods), the impacts of which cannot be fully captured through analysing temperature and rainfall alone.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.