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Written by Karl Burkart
There's no doubt United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change delegates are feeling a great deal of pressure to make some tangible progress here at the COP16 climate conference in Cancun. But that pressure may be ratcheted up a notch after the Dec. 3 release of the Climate Vulnerability Monitor, the first definitive study of the impacts of climate change on human health.
The report was prepared by DARA, a leading humanitarian research organization in conjunction with the CVF (Climate Vulnerable Forum) an alliance of 11 nations* that are experiencing the most direct impacts of climate change. The paper was peer reviewed by 11 experts on human health, climate science and disaster relief.
The report offers some sobering findings. Already there are an estimated 350,000 climate-related deaths per year, and that number is expected to nearly double by 2020 and triple by 2030. Not surprisingly, most of those impacted will be children and women in the poorest parts of the world.
The data charts provided in the report reveal a tragic irony — the countries that pollute the most are affected the least. Compare North America with East Africa across four impact types — economic loss, habitat loss, human health and extreme weather impacts: