WHO says climate change killing 150,000 a year

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MILAN (Reuters) – Global warming killed 150,000 people in 2000 ? and 20,000 this year alone in a European heatwave, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday. Climate change, linked by scientists to human emissions of gases like carbon dioxide from cars and factories, is causing more frequent floods and droughts and melting ice caps.

In a book launched at a U.N. environment conference in Milan, the WHO estimated climate change was to blame for 2.4 percent of cases of diarrhoea worldwide, and two percent of all cases of malaria. “An estimated 150,000 deaths…were caused in the year 2000 due to climate change,” it said. A further 5.5 million healthy years of life were lost worldwide due to debilitating diseases caused by climate change.

“The 1990s were the hottest decade on record and the upward trend in the world’s temperature does not look like abating,” it said. “In Europe this past summer, for example, an estimated 20,000 people died due to extremely hot temperatures.” More rainfall, for instance, can collect and stagnate in pools. “Still water provides additional breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other vectors which transmit diseases such as malaria and dengue fever,” it said.

The book, “Climate Change and Human Health”, offers governments guidelines for slowing the adverse impacts of global warming.

The 180-nation conference in Milan is trying to work out ways to slow climate change, mainly via the U.N.’s Kyoto protocol which seeks to curb emissions of greenhouse gases. The protocol is stalled because the United States has pulled out and Russia, which now has a casting vote, is undecided on whether to ratify