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Cheltenham Day 6: Global health sandwich

By Claire V J Skipper, on 12 June 2011

Dear All,

Today I started the day on a high with a talk ‘Life in the Cosmos: From Big Bangs to Biospheres’ by Martin Rees and ended on a high of another sort with the ‘talk’ ‘Over-Ambitious Demo Challenge’ hosted by UCL’s own brilliant chemist Dr. Sella.

To not tread on anyone else’s blog I will tell you about an interesting talk that I heard in between, ‘Our Health and the Climate’ chaired by our old friend Mark Maslin from the UCL geography department. The speakers were Anne Johnson, co-director of the Institute for Global Health at UCL and Sari Kovats and Andy Haines, both at the London school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The climate is changing due to global warming and the results are already being seen and may have an impact on health. In the UK there will probably be more extreme weather events such as heat waves and floods. The heat wave in 2003 caused a spike in deaths in those over 75. Floods cause deaths by drowning and may increase the incidence of water carried diseases. Worldwide growing conditions may deteriorate and this will increase the price of food and the incidence of starvation. It will be the poorest of this world, who have contributed the least to global warming, who will suffer the most from its effects.

In the UK plans are in place to deal with extreme conditions and to try to reduce the amount of CO2 that is produced. For example there are already plans for legislation so that all new housing is energy efficient. It is suggested that we as individuals reduce our own carbon footprints and vote for a low carbon economy in order to show the world the direction to be taken to reduce carbon emissions.

All quite sobering and thought provoking stuff.

Your Computational Chemist

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