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Tourists refresh at a fountain in front of Rome's Pantheon during a heat wave that swept Europe this year. Photo: Gregorio Borgia / AP

Climate change is hurting people's health more than previously thought, a team of 63 doctors, scientists, and public health officials wrote in a report published Monday in the medical journal Lancet. "The human symptoms of climate change are unequivocal and potentially irreversible" the team warns, in the first of what is expected to be an annual report based on 40 indicators.

The upshot: The increasing waves of heat-related illnesses, mosquito-borne diseases and air pollution problems can be lessened if the world derives its energy needs from renewable sources instead of fossil fuels like coal and boosts its funding to make health systems more climate resistant.

What's happening: The scientists found that climate change already is having an impact worldwide on health, labor productivity, food scarcity, the spread of infectious disease, and exposure to air pollution and heatwaves. Between 2000-2016, there was a 46% increase in the number of weather-related disasters.

Some metrics, per the study and its accompanying press release:

  • Cases of mosquito-borne dengue fever have doubled every decade since 1990, partly since mosquitos thrive better in warmer weather. AP reports that there's similarly an increase in tick-borne Lyme disease in the U.S., as ticks also fare better with warmer weather.
  • Vulnerable adults, such as those over 65 or with chronic disease, are facing a greater number of heat waves. Between 2000 and last year, the number of adults facing debilitating heat waves rose by 125 million.
  • Global exposure to dangerous levels of air pollution has increased by 11.2% since 1990. 71% of 2,971 cities exceed the recommended levels of air pollutants.
  • Increasing temperatures have led to about 5.3% in loss of labor productivity. Economic losses linked to climate-related extreme weather events were estimated at US$129 billion in 2016.
  • Only 40% of the countries reported having taken measures to increase the climate resilience of their health infrastructure to plan for emergencies from severe storms and flooding. Medical care can be damaged from compromised electricity and water supplies, interrupted supply chains, disabled trans­portation links, and disrupted communications and IT networks.

Be smart: Global temperatures have increased 0.75 degrees Fahrenheit since 2000, but local changes can vary widely from that seemingly incremental change, The Washington Post points out.

One warning quote: The WashPost writes that Nick Watts, executive director of Lancet Countdown, says: "If anybody says we can adapt our way out of this, the answer is, of course you can't."

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

4 hours ago - World

Scoop: Blinken protests Israel settlements approval in "tense" phone call

Benny Gantz (L) and Tony Blinken. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken protested the decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank during a tense phone call on Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time new construction in the settlements has been approved since President Biden assumed office, and the Biden administration had been privately pressing the Israeli government not to proceed.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.