Biodiversity in Asia is being lost as a result of development activities and land degradation (especially overgrazing and deforestation), pollution, over-fishing, hunting, infrastructure development, species invasion, land-use change, climate change and the overuse of freshwater (UNEP, 2002; Gopal, 2003). Though evidence of climate-related biodiversity loss in Asia remains limited, a large number of plant and animal species are reported to be moving to higher latitudes and altitudes as a consequence of observed climate change in many parts of Asia in recent years (Yoshio and Ishii, 2001; IUCN, 2003a). Changes in the flowering date of Japanese Cherry, a decrease in alpine flora in Hokkaido and other high mountains and the expansion of the distribution of southern broad-leaved evergreen trees have also been reported (Oda and Ishii, 2001; Ichikawa, 2004; Kudo et al., 2004; Wada et al., 2004).
10.2.4.6 Human health
A large number of deaths due to heatwaves – mainly among the poor, elderly and labourers such as rural daily wage earners, agricultural workers and rickshaw pullers – have been reported in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and elsewhere during the past five years (Lal, 2002). Serious health risks associated with extreme summer temperatures and heatwaves have also been reported in Siberian cities (Zolotov and Caliberny, 2004).
In South Asia, endemic morbidity and mortality due to diarrhoeal disease is linked to poverty and hygiene behaviour compounded by the effect of high temperatures on bacterial proliferation (Checkley et al., 2000). Diarrhoeal diseases and outbreaks of other infectious diseases (e.g., cholera, hepatitis, malaria, dengue fever) have been reported to be influenced by climate-related factors such as severe floods, ENSO-related droughts, sea-surface temperatures and rainfall in association with non-climatic factors such as poverty, lack of access to safe drinking water and poor sewerage system (Durkin et al., 1993; Akhtar and McMichael, 1996; Bouma and van der Kaay, 1996; Colwell, 1996; Bangs and Subianto, 1999; Lobitz et al., 2000; Pascual et al., 2000; Bouma and Pascual, 2001; Glantz, 2001; Pascual et al., 2002; Rodo et al., 2002).