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Report: Fossil fuel addiction killing millions and worsening climate crisis

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Fossil fuel “addiction” is rapidly worsening climate change as the related effects of extreme weather leave 98 million people facing severe food insecurity and heat-related deaths surge, a new report warns.

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he big picture: The burning of fossil fuels including coal, oil and natural gas that cause toxic air pollution kills some 11,800 Americans and about 1.2 million people globally every year, according to the report, published in the medical journal The Lancet Tuesday ahead of next month’s UN Cop27 climate summit in Egypt.

What they found: The annual Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change report examined 103 countries and found that the global land area impacted by extreme drought — like the one gripping much of the U.S. West — had grown by 29% in the past 50 years.

  • Heat-related deaths jumped 68% between 2017-2021, compared to 2000-2004, as exposure to days of very-high or extremely-high fire danger rose in 61% of countries from 2001–2004 to 2018–2021, the University College London-led study found.
  • Heat exposure led to 470 billion potential labour hours lost globally in 2021, disproportionately affecting low- and middle-income countries and worsening the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

Of note: Global warming is leading to the spread of infectious diseases, per the report — which involved 99 researchers from 51 institutions, including the World Health Organization and the World Meteorological Organization

  • Malaria transmission rose 32.1% in highland areas of the Americas and 14.9% in Africa in 2012-2021, compared to the 1950s.

State of play: Jeni Miller, executive director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance, said in an emailed statement accompanying the report that “fossil fuel-driven climate change is reducing family incomes due to heat waves that impact worker productivity.”

 

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