May 29, 2009

Global warming accounts for 300,000 deaths

Climate change today accounts for more than 300,000 deaths throughout the world each year, officials of humanitarian group in Switzerland said.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi A. Annan, president of the Global Humanitarian Forum, released the report on the human impact of climate change in London Friday. Increasingly severe heat waves, storms, floods and forest fires will cause greater hunger, disease and poverty, the report said, and by 2030 will bring the annual death toll from climate change to half a million people a year.

The report, the first comprehensive study of the effects of climate chance on people, said that climate change already seeriously affects 325 million people every year, a number that may double in 20 years.

The Global Humanitarian Forum commissioned Dalberg Global Development Advisers to develop the report by collating all relevant information and current statistics relating to the human impact of climate change.

The populations most gravely at risk are over half a billion people in some of the poorest areas that are also highly prone to climate change -- in particular, the semi-arid dry land belt countries from the Sahara to the Middle East and Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, South and South East Asia, and small island developing states.

Climate change is a silent human crisis, Annan said in a statement.

Already today, it causes suffering to hundreds of millions of people most of whom are not even aware that they are victims of climate change.

Annan said he was alarmed by the weak leadership and widespread ignorance about global warming.

If leaders cannot assume responsibility they will fail humanity, Annan said. Agreement is in the interests of every human being.