At least 150,000 people die needlessly each year as a direct result of global warming, three major UN organisations warned yesterday. The belief that the effects of climate change would become apparent in 10, 20 or 50 years time was misplaced, they said in a report. The changes had already brought about a noticeable increase in malnutrition, as well as outbreaks of diarrhoea and malaria, the three 'big killers' in the poorest countries of the world.
The report was published at the climate talks in Milan, where ministers are trying to put the finishing touches to the Kyoto protocol, designed to put legal limits on developed countries' greenhouse gas emissions. Russia's ratification of the protocol is needed for it to come into force.
Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, a World Health Organisation scientist, said the estimates of deaths were extremely conservative and the reality was probably far higher. They were expected to double in the next 30 years. 'People may say that this is a small total compared with the totals who die anyway, but these are needless deaths. We must do our best to take preventative measures,' he said.
The Bush administration is calling Kyoto a straigtjacket. That might be appropriate treatment for an insane policy that continues to claim global warming is not happening or is having no impact.