Andy “the Gau-leiter” Burnham has spoken. So you do what he says, all right?
Climate change ‘poses real and present danger’
Climate change poses a “real and present danger” to the immediate health of millions of people, Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, has warned.
By Kate Devlin, Medical Correspondent
Published: 12:15PM GMT 25 Nov 2009
His comments came as a series of reports suggested that tens of thousands of lives a year could be saved in Britain alone by cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The warning comes less than a fortnight before international leaders are due to meet in Copenhagen for crunch climate change talks.
Cutting animal farming by a third could significantly reduce emissions and save around 18,000 lives a year in Britain because of the resultant drop in cases of heart disease if people eat less red meat, scientists estimate.
Another 5,000 early deaths from lung problems and other conditions could be prevented by better home insulation and reducing the use of carbon based fuels.
Reducing our dependence on cars could improve also health, as well as lower emissions, the studies found.
Switching to walking instead of driving for many journeys could also cut deaths from heart disease by up to 4,200 cases a year.
The move could also save around 200 deaths a year each from dementia and breast cancer.
The series, produced by the Lancet medical journal, calls on health ministers around the world to recognise the danger that global warming poses.
Scientists also called for a reduction in other greenhouse gases as well as carbon dioxide, such as ozone, which has been shown to cause lung problems. (I thought ozone was good? ed.)
Reducing emissions would also cut air pollution across the world, reducing deaths from heart problems, lung conditions and other acute illnesses, especially in large parts of the developing world which still suffer from high levels of pollution.
Mr Burnham said: “Climate change can seem a distant, impersonal threat – in fact the associated costs to health are a very real and present danger.
“Health ministers across the globe must act now to highlight the risk global warming poses to our communities. We need well-designed climate change policies that drive health benefits.”
Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said an ambitious deal to cut climate emissions had to be reached in Copenhagen.
“To protect the world’s health we must stop dangerous climate change happening and limit temperature increases to no more than 2C.
“An ambitious and fair deal in Copenhagen will not only have major benefits in terms of reducing the climate change-related spread of infectious diseases and risks to food supply, but will also result in immediate green benefits in terms of a healthier environment and lifestyle (Baldur von Schirach) [he didn’t say that, I did, and I also muttered “Walter Darré” under my breath] for a low carbon Britain – and a low carbon world.
“This is why we are going to Copenhagen to secure an ambitious, effective and fair deal for everyone,” he said.
Margaret Chan, of the World Health Organisation, warned that “no mercy” would be shown for humans’ mistakes over climate change.