Growing calls for the world to come to grips with the many ways that global warming affects human health have prompted the first day dedicated to the issue at crunch UN climate talks starting this week.
Extreme heat, air pollution and the increasing spread of deadly infectious diseases are just some of the reasons the World Health Organization has called climate change the single biggest health threat facing humanity.
Global warming must be limited to the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celsius “to avert catastrophic health impacts and prevent millions of climate change-related deaths,” according to the WHO.
Photo: AP 照片：美聯社
However, under current national carbon-cutting plans, the world is on track to warm up to 2.9C this century, the UN said last week.
While no one will be completely safe from the effects of climate change, experts expect that most at risk will be children, women, the elderly, migrants and people in less developed countries, which have emitted the least planet-warming greenhouse gases.
On Dec. 3, the COP28 negotiations in Dubai will host the first “health day” ever held at the climate negotiations.
Photo: AFP 照片：法新社
This year is widely expected to be the hottest on record. And as the world continues to warm, even more frequent and intense heatwaves are expected to follow.
Heat is believed to have caused more than 70,000 deaths in Europe during summer last year, researchers said last week, revising the previous number up from 62,000.
Worldwide, people were exposed to an average of 86 days of life-threatening temperatures last year, according to the Lancet Countdown report earlier last week.
The number of people over 65 who died from heat rose by 85 percent from 1991-2000 to 2013-2022, it added.
And by 2050, more than five times more people will die from the heat each year under a 2C warming scenario, the Lancet Countdown projected.
More droughts will also drive rising hunger. Under the scenario of 2C warming by the end of the century, 520 million more people will experience moderate or severe food insecurity by 2050.
Meanwhile, other extreme weather events such as storms, floods and fires will continue to threaten the health of people across the world.
Almost 99 percent of the world’s population breathes air that exceeds the WHO’s guidelines for air pollution.
Outdoor air pollution driven by fossil fuel emissions kills more than four million people every year, according to the WHO.
It increases the risk of respiratory diseases, strokes, heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and other health problems, posing a threat that has been compared to tobacco.
The damage is caused partly by PM2.5 microparticles, which are mostly from fossil fuels. People breathe these tiny particles into their lungs, where they can then enter the bloodstream.
While spikes in air pollution, such as extremes seen in India’s capital New Delhi earlier this month, trigger respiratory problems and allergies, long-term exposure is believed to be even more harmful.
However it is not all bad news.
The Lancet Countdown report found that deaths from air pollution due to fossil fuels have fallen 16 percent since 2005, mostly due to efforts to reduce the impact of coal burning.
The changing climate means that mosquitoes, birds and mammals will roam beyond their previous habitats, raising the threat that they could spread infectious diseases with them.
Mosquito-borne diseases that pose a greater risk of spreading due to climate change include dengue, chikungunya, Zika, West Nile virus and malaria.
The transmission potential for dengue alone will increase by 36 percent with 2C warming, the Lancet Countdown report warned.
Storms and floods create stagnant water that are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and also increase the risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea.
Scientists also fear that mammals straying into new areas could share diseases with each other, potentially creating new viruses that could then jump over to humans.
A very popular dish at Taiwanese night markets for generations has been the oyster omelet, with its soft sticky texture and slightly crispy edge. In Taiwan, this dish is often pronounced in Taiwanese Hokkien as o-a-tsian, which literally means “oyster fried.” One unique feature of the language is that a dish is often named by saying its major ingredients first, followed by the method used to cook it. 蚵仔煎是台灣流傳好幾代的夜市美食，口感軟黏，邊緣微脆，在台灣多半以台語念做o-a-tsian，意思為「牡蠣煎」。這是台語獨特的語法，命名時會將食材的名字加上烹飪的動詞，就成了菜餚的名字。 omelet (n.) 煎蛋餅（英式拼法為 omelette） sticky (adj.) 黏黏的 texture (n.) 口感，質地 ingredient (n.) 食材 An oyster omelet is made by frying oysters, eggs and vegetables, then pouring a sweet potato starch
A: The Lantern Festival — the 15th day of the first lunar month — will be this Sunday. B: Where’s the Taiwan Lantern Festival being held this year? A: It’s taking place in Tainan and will run until March 10. B: It’s the Year of the Dragon: there must be a lot of dragon-shaped lanterns. How about the Taipei Lantern Festival? A: The event has moved back to Ximending and will run until March 3. A: 農曆1月15日元宵節，今年將會落在本週日。 B: 今年「台灣燈會」在哪裡？ A: 在台南，活動持續到3月10日。 B: 今年是龍年，應該會有許多以龍為造型的花燈。那「台北燈節」呢？ A: 這次燈節將會搬回西門町，活動持續到3月3日。 （By Eddy Chang, Taipei Times／台北時報張聖恩）
Every year, mammals, birds, fish and insects make epic migrations between habitats. The humpback whale, famously, can travel 5,000 miles in a trip. But because these animals cross national borders and frequently congregate at predictable way stops, they are uniquely vulnerable to human predation, pollution and habitat loss. As a result, one in five migratory species is at risk of extinction, according to a new report by the United Nations. State of the World’s Migratory Species is a first-ever global survey focused solely on migratory species. The key findings are grim. Of the roughly 1,200 species already listed and protected under the
The latest social media app to spread like wildfire among young people is TikTok. This app works by people creating and sharing short videos that usually last under a minute. The videos posted often cover various topics like dance challenges, fashion trends, prank videos, or even news updates. While this might seem like just another harmless social media app, new research shows that TikTok can negatively affect people’s attention spans. Some studies have recently discovered that apps like TikTok affect people’s brains. Specifically, it has altered how our brains release dopamine. Dopamine is often called the “feel-good” hormone because