Climate Change Could Kill Half a Million by 2050

Meltdown: The Science Behind Climate Change
  • Warming temperatures may spur change in diets: Oxford study
  • Reduced fruit, vegetable consumption may raise disease risks

The impact of climate change on food supplies and diets may cause half a million more deaths in the next few decades, a University of Oxford study showed.

At least 500,000 extra people will probably die by 2050 from health effects related to warming temperatures and dietary changes, according to a study from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food published in U.K. medical journal The Lancet.

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Lower fruit and vegetable consumption and changes in body weight may raise the risk of non-infectious illnesses including heart disease, stroke and cancer, the study showed. Food availability may drop 3.2 percent per person by 2050, compared with a scenario without climate change. Lower- and middle-income countries will be hardest hit by reduced food supplies, especially the western Pacific region and southeast Asia, including China and India, the study showed.

“Climate change is likely to have a substantial negative impact on future mortality, even under optimistic scenarios,” Marco Springmann, the researcher who led the study, said in an e-mailed statement. “Adaptation efforts need to be scaled up rapidly.”

On a per-capita basis, Greece and Italy also may be significantly affected, the researchers said.

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