Unless we stop the march of climate change - humanity may become extinct, scientist warns
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/30/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
While we go about our lives and dress more lightly in response to global warning one Australian academic is not so calm. Australian Health Academic Helen Berry says that if we all collectively don't change our tune - humanity may very well become extinct.
Helen Berry says that the Earth is warming so rapidly that unless humans can arrest the trend, we risk becoming "extinct" as a species.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "What is remarkable, and alarming, is the speed of the change since the 1970s, when we started burning a lot of fossil fuels in a massive way," Berry says. "We can't possibly evolve to match this rate [of warming] and, unless we get control of it, it will mean our extinction eventually."
Berry says that the Earth is warming so rapidly that unless humans can arrest the trend, we risk becoming "extinct" as a species.
An associate dean in the faculty of health at the University of Canberra, Berry says that while the Earth has been warmer and colder at different points in the planet's history, the rate of change has never been as fast as it is today.
She's one of three leading academics who have contributed to the health chapter of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report due this week. Berry and co-authors Tony McMichael, of the Australian National University, and Colin Butler, of the University of Canberra, have outlined the health risks of rapid global warming. The three warn that the adverse effects on population health and social stability have been "missing from the discussion" on climate change.
"Human-driven climate change poses a great threat, unprecedented in type and scale, to wellbeing, health and perhaps even to human survival," they write.
Among the predictions weather change will wrought will come in the form of under-nutrition and impaired child development from reduced food yields; hospitalizations and deaths due to intense heat waves, fires and other weather-related disaster and the spread of infectious diseases.
The "largest impacts" will be on poorer and vulnerable populations, winding back recent hard-won gains of social development programs.
Projecting to an average global warming of four degrees by 2100, they say "people won't be able to cope, let alone work productively, in the hottest parts of the year."
Action on climate change would produce "extremely large health benefits" which would greatly outweigh the costs of curbing emission growth.
The report also says that a warming climate would lead to fewer cold weather-related deaths but the benefits would be "greatly" outweighed by the impacts of more frequent heat extremes.
While some adaptive measures are possible, limits to humans' ability to regulate heat will affect health and potentially cut global productivity in the warmest months by 40 percent by 2100.
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