Climate Change Could Kill 100 Million By 2030

By Amir Khan on September 27, 2012 12:43 PM EDT

If the current path of climate change isn't shifted, 100 million people could die by the year 2030, according to a new report released by DARA, an independent, Spanish-based non-profit organization. Researchers found that climate change currently accounts for 4.5 million deaths every year, and by 2030, that number could increase to 6 million annually.

"There is still a window of opportunity, fast closing, to scale back pollution and tame the rising heat. But the world economy is locked onto a different course: fossil fuel consumption is expected to continue its rapid growth in the coming decades," the report said.

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Third-world countries are hit the hardest, and that trend will most likely continue, researchers said. The countries already use up much of their resources to fight disease and drought, and as climate change continues, resources will likely become more scarce while disease, drought and famine increase.

Of all these losses, it is the world's poorest communities within lower and middle-income countries that are most exposed. Losses of income among these groups is already extreme," the report says. "The pressures that these combined stresses put on affected communities are immense."

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and ozone, trap heat in the atmosphere and act as a blanket, raising temperatures and causing climate change. Global temperature increases could affect sea levels, crops and animal habitats. Scientists expect heat waves, cold snaps, hurricanes and other extreme weather events to increase as temperatures increase, according to EPA officials.

"The cold calculus of a hot planet is that millions of people already suffer from the failure of the world economy to embark on a low-carbon transition," they said. "Tackling climate change is already sensible in economic terms today. [Assessing the problem] will also minimize widespread illness and mortality that inaction causes."

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