Evidence continues to show climate change is harming human health globally.

On Nov. 13, The Lancet will add to that data with the release of a new report on health and climate. Two researchers who helped put the report together were on hand at a Tuesday morning session at APHA’s 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo.

Mark Magana, Nick Watts, Renee Salas and John Balbus “The 2019 Report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change” is under embargo, so researchers couldn’t go into specifics. But they did hint at some positives, a lot of negatives and how the new report differs from previous Lancet countdowns. 

Nick Watts, executive director of the Lancet Countdown, told about 250 people attending that a positive finding is that data show a “drastic decline” in investment in coal-fired power plants.

But that was the only good news he offered. Watts quickly shifted gears to describe nightmare scenarios if climate change is not reversed.

Watts said the new report differs a bit from last year’s Lancet Countdown report on health and climate. The new one:

  • drills down to supply regional assessments for climate and health;
  • translates health impacts of climate action and inaction into economic terms; and
  • provides the first scientific assessment by Lancet of adaptation for health.

Renee Salas, clinical instructor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an emergency medicine physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital, is lead author of the 2019 Lancet Countdown’s U.S. brief. The brief will include an assessment of data on Hurricane Maria, which in 2017 struck Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Dominica. 

The official tally of hurricane deaths was 64. But adjusted estimates from later studies indicate over 5,700 deaths. A breakdown in getting accurate data clearly occurred, Salas said.

In his slide presentation, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, a senior scientist at the World Health Organization, talked about his part in WHO’s “COP24 Special Report: Health & Climate Change,” published last year. He included a screenshot of a tweet he sends to summarize the report’s findings and recommendations.

“Stop burning things that choke people & planet / Implement Paris like the healthy treaty it is / Value lives > money / Fund healthy adaptation & mitigation / Amplify trusted health voices / Greener, healthier cities / Measure success.”

Session moderator Mark Magaña, founding president and CEO of GreenLatinos, said of the tweet, “That’s an executive summary I can get through.”

Above, from left, Mark Magaña, Nick Watts, Renee Salas and John Balbus, senior advisor for public health at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, at an Annual Meeting session on The Lancet climate reports. (Photo by Mark Barna, courtesy The Nation's Health)