More bicycle riding and other lifestyle changes will reduce
climate-altering carbon emissions that are damaging the health of
people in Asia and could also threaten the economy, the World Health
Organisation said Monday.
Climate change contributes directly or indirectly to about 77,000
deaths per year in the region, according to WHO estimates.
"So far the impact is on the health of the people. If the trend
continues, it may have an impact on the economy," said Shigeru Omi,
the WHO's regional director for the Western Pacific.
"Of course the threat is there. We should not wait for that to
happen," he told reporters at the start of a four-day conference on the
impact of climate change and health in Southeast and East Asian
He said that in some countries environmental issues were not given
the highest priority but "if we ignore the environment, humanity will
suffer." Omi proposed greater use of bicycles, the use of clean energy
sources, and tax incentives to reduce carbon emissions.
Health threats from global warming include malaria and dengue fever
due to the proliferation of mosquitoes, while reduced rainfall and
water shortages could lead to waterborne diseases, the UN health agency said.
Damage to weather systems
Carbon dioxide from energy use is a major contributor to the
greenhouse gases, which scientists blame for global warming.
At least 40 participants from 16 countries including China, India,
Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have gathered to
identify innovative ways to combat climate change.
A key UN report released earlier this year warned that billions
would face a higher risk of water scarcity and millions more would
go hungry as damage to the Earth's weather systems from
greenhouse gases changed rainfall patterns, powered up storms and
increased the risk of drought, flooding and water stress. - (Sapa)
Enviro Health Centre