Shocking health impact of climate change – 79% of world population affected


By 2050, 79% of the future world population will experience illness due to the impact of climate change. This includes high blood pressure, respiratory and heart disease, mental health issues, and stunted child development, according to a report titled Quantifying the Impact of Climate Change on Human Health, released by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Climate-induced impacts will result in an additional $1.1 trillion in healthcare costs, putting a significant strain on already burdened infrastructures and medical and human resources. It is expected that 14.5 million people will die by 2050 due to climate-related factors.

Climate-driven event categories

Six major climate-driven event categories were identified as significant drivers of negative health impacts, including floods, droughts, heatwaves, tropical storms, wildfires, and rising sea levels.

Droughts and floods caused by changing climate will lead to food insecurity and malnutrition and also have a major impact on people’s mental health, warns the WEF.

Floods were found to pose the highest acute risk of climate-induced mortality, accounting for 8.5 million deaths by 2050. Droughts, indirectly linked to extreme heat are the second-largest cause of mortality, with an anticipated 3.2 million deaths.

Heatwaves, characterised by prolonged periods of extreme temperatures and humidity, will have the highest economic toll, estimated at $7.1 trillion by 2050 due to productivity loss.

Climate refugees

“The earth has already experienced a 20 cm rise in average sea levels since 1880, and the rate of increase is accelerating,” according to the report.

“This has huge implications for tens of millions of people, given that eight of the world’s ten largest cities are near coasts.

“By 2050, there could be as many as 1.2 billion climate refugees – people who are forced to move from their homes because of global warming.”


The Citizen / Carien Grobler