Wednesday, September 16th 2009, 2:48 AM EDT
Human society faces a global health catastrophe if climate change is not effectively tackled at the UN conference in Copenhagen in December, leading doctors from around the world warn today.
Calling on medical practitioners everywhere to put pressure on politicians in advance of the meeting, the doctors say that the world's poorest people will be hit first by the health effects of global warming, but add that "no one will be spared".
Their stark challenge to governments follows a report in May which said climate change would represent "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century".
Malaria, dengue fever and other tropical diseases would increase, the study predicted, spelling out how rising temperatures will cause health crises in half a dozen areas: there will be increased problems with food supplies, clean water and sanitation, especially in developing countries. Meanwhile, the migration of peoples will combine with extreme weather events such as hurricanes and severe floods to make for disastrous conditions in human settlements.