2021-06-05 10:40:37

SHANGHAI — Chinese researchers will need to work together across disciplines to solve a host of interlinked health challenges in the climate change era, officials warned at a forum held in Shanghai Friday.

China is more vulnerable than most countries to the effects of climate change, which makes a rethink particularly urgent, according to Shi Xiaoming, the head of the National Institute of Environmental Health at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the past two decades, the number of deaths caused by heat waves in China has been increasing steadily, according to Shi. Other extreme weather events including cold snaps and droughts are also on the rise, he added.

The analysis, which Shi shared during a talk at the annual Pujiang Innovation Forum, is in line with a previous report showing an increase in heat-related mortality in China. In 2019, heat waves are estimated to have killed more than 26,000 people in the country, according to the study.

“China’s vast landscape means that we are facing a variety of extreme weather events, for which we have to be prepared and come up with corresponding mitigation plans,” Ye Qian, a climate change expert at Beijing Normal University and a panelist at the forum, told Sixth Tone.

Rising global temperatures will also create indirect risks to human health, such as by causing malaria-carrying mosquitoes to become more widespread, said Zhou Xiaonong, deputy director of the National Institute of Parasitic Diseases at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the world facing interconnected risks to environmental, animal, and human health, researchers from multiple disciplines — from climate scientists, to veterinarians and medical doctors — will need to collaborate on climate change mitigation, Zhou added.

“We still face a lot of challenges when working interdisciplinarily,” Ye said. “Researchers from different fields don’t understand the technical terms each other uses, like we’re speaking different languages. But we’re working toward that and passing on this mindset to the next generation.”

(Header image: A man walks in the sun in Shanghai, Aug. 17, 2020. People Visual)