Climate change poses 'catastrophic risk to human health,' experts warn

Men sleep in shade under a bridge amid the ongoing heat wave in Karachi, Pakistan, on June 22, 2015.Reuters

Pope Francis recently said that the Earth is turning into an "immense pile of filth" due to climate change. In recent years, the human race has seen the destructive effects of climate change: more frequent and intense weather events that cause heat waves, droughts, flash flooding and destructive storms.

These catastrophic events also have effects to health globally, including malnutrition due to famine, increasing incidents of lung problems due to air pollution, and infectious disease patterns.

Because of these, an international commission of experts formed by the Lancet, a prestigious medical journal based in the United Kingdom, said climate change should already be considered a "medical emergency."

In a report, the panel of experts warned of climate change's "potentially catastrophic risk to human health."

The experts also said that climate change can potentially undo medical gains in the last half century if it continues to go unchecked.

"Climate change has the potential to reverse the health gains from economic development that have been made in recent decades – not just through the direct effects on health from a changing and more unstable climate, but through indirect means such as increased migration and reduced social stability," Professor Anthony Costello of the University College London (UCL), a co-author of the report, explained.

For another author of the report, Professor Hugh Montgomery, climate change already calls for an "emergency response."

"Climate change is a medical emergency. It thus demands an emergency response, using the technologies available right now," he said.

What exactly should the world's response be? Experts behind the report called for "bold political commitment" to lower carbon emissions.

The reports also called on wealthier countries to "help poorer nations pursue more sustainable development that addresses key public health issues, including access to safe water and clean air."

The commission's report and recommendations came out days after Pope Francis released a highly anticipated encyclical also calling for global action to address climate change.