Climate change, pollution, and environmental damage are some of the biggest threats to the public. Yet, with so many countries being slow to take action, the UN has issued new warnings about the impact it could have in the coming years.
The report, which was release by the UN, says that as many as 25% of deaths can be linked to environmental issues. This includes polluted water, air, and land, with some of the biggest threats to public health being exposure to outdoor and indoor fumes.
The high volumes of food and plastic waste area also a cause for concern. For instance, there have been recent reports from the WHO about the effects of plastic litter in the oceans on marine wildlife, as well as the ways this can be addressed.
In addition to this, carbon dioxide levels have, according to a previous UN report, reached an all-time high and the stress it’s causing to the environment could cause a great deal of damage to society in the long-term.
It could also lead to an array of other problems, including rising temperatures and sea levels, more extreme weather, food insecurity, and problems caused with the spread of diseases – both between people, and diseases carried by insects like mosquitoes.
The report also highlighted the size of the gap between the richest and the poorest countries, and the ongoing issue of overconsumption vs hunger and disease. In particular, the researchers say the some parts of Asia and Africa could be vulnerable because of anti-microbal resistance.
Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of UN Environment noted: “The science is clear. The health and prosperity of humanity is directly tied with the state of our environment. We are at a crossroads.”
“Do we continue on our current path, which will lead to a bleak future for humankind, or do we pivot to a more sustainable development pathway? That is the choice our political leaders must make, now.”
To combat the issue, the UN team say that countries need to take greater responsibility for the possible harm they are causing to the environment and the health of the public. And to address this, they need to come up with new strategies and policies and implement them as soon as possible.