As world leaders focus on addressing the effects of climate change, there is another crisis that is closely related but does not receive the same attention: biodiversity loss. While the phenomenon of climate change has worsened in recent years, as a result of human activities that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, heat retention, biodiversity loss crisis, which has led to a decrease in species diversity and biological communities on Earth, is caused by many factors including: climate change, overfishing, habitat degradation and pollution. .
In an effort to highlight this issue, more than 200 health journals from around the world have called on world leaders and health experts to agree that climate change and biodiversity loss represent an inseparable crisis. Disasters.
The researchers said in an editorial published in journals, notably the British Medical Journal, The Lancet, Australian Medical Journal, East African Medical Journal and the National Medical Journal of India, that the answer was a “grave mistake”. Climate crisis and natural crisis are two separate challenges.
They launched a petition calling on the World Health Organization to declare this intractable crisis a global public health emergency at the World Health Assembly in May 2024.
A global emergency
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsad, Chris Zielinski, the UK Health Alliance’s lead adviser on climate change and one of the participants in the call, said: “We are wasting time, energy and resources in addressing the impacts of climate change. And biodiversity loss are separate problems.” ». He adds: “Climate change and biodiversity loss represent one problem, and it is better to tackle them together.” This means that separate series of United Nations conferences should be merged into a common United Nations conference.
Regarding the specific conditions for considering a climate and natural crisis as a global emergency, Zelensky explained that there are 3 conditions for the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency of international concern: first, the crisis is severe, sudden, unusual or unexpected, and second it has public health implications outside the national borders of the affected state, Finally, it may require immediate international action.
Regarding the fulfillment of these conditions in relation to the climate and natural crisis, he said: “Are climate change and biodiversity loss dangerous? Yes definitely. Is that surprising? Well, it suddenly got worse in the last few years. Is it unusual/unexpected? “We generally don’t expect humanity to fall into oblivion, and for those who are skeptical about the reality of climate change, this must be very unusual and unexpected.”
Regarding the second and third conditions, he said, it is clear that climate change and biodiversity have public health impacts beyond national boundaries, and urgent international action is needed.
He pointed out that the World Health Organization may want to develop separate rules to manage emergencies resulting from disease outbreaks and epidemics on the one hand, and climate change and biodiversity loss on the other, and we invite discussion of this matter at the next session. In May 2024, the World Health Assembly said, “A public petition has been published on the UK Health Alliance for Climate Change website, which we invite everyone to sign.”
Kamran Abbasi, editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal, says the climate crisis and biodiversity loss are linked to harm to human health. That is why we should consider them both and declare a global health emergency. It makes no sense for climate scientists, conservationists, and politicians to view health and environmental crises in separate silos.
He adds: “Health workers enjoy great trust from the public and have a vital role to play in clarifying this important message, and calling on politicians to take urgent action to recognize this global health emergency and address it.”
In the editorial, the researchers wrote that human health is directly affected by climate and natural crises, with the poorest and most vulnerable communities bearing the brunt.
Rising temperatures, extreme weather events, air pollution and the spread of infectious diseases are among the major health threats exacerbated by climate change.
For example, access to clean water is essential for human health, but pollution affects water quality, leading to an increase in waterborne diseases, and ocean acidification reduces the quality and quantity of seafood that billions of people rely on for food and sustenance. Livelihoods. Biodiversity loss undermines good nutrition and limits the discovery of new drugs derived from nature.
Researchers have noted that communities enjoy better health if they have access to high-quality green spaces that help reduce air pollution, lower air and land temperatures, and provide opportunities for physical activity. Connecting with nature reduces stress, loneliness, and depression. contact..
“The climate crisis has impacted the environmental and social determinants of health across Africa, leading to devastating health impacts,” says Zielinski. Impacts on health can result from direct environmental shocks and indirectly from social impacts.
Risks associated with climate change in Africa include floods, droughts, heat waves, reduced food production and reduced labor productivity.
Ways to minimize the effects
Zelensky believes that the most effective way to mitigate these crises is to ensure that the increase in temperature is slowed down. This includes drastically reducing the amount of greenhouse gases we emit into the atmosphere. We are well ahead of the Paris Agreement target of keeping temperature rise to 1.5°C.
“We need to protect people and ensure greater access to cooling systems, drinking water and other means to escape the heat,” he added. It risks becoming a geographic problem as parts of the world become uninhabitable.