Global Warming Biggest Health Threat of 21st Century, Experts Say

"We have a moral dilemma: How do we protect the health of the poorest people in the world and allow them to develop," Maslin said.

"There are so many public health issues associated with global warming that certainly, once it becomes a significant problem, it will be the most significant public health problem at that point in time," Donnelly said.

"This is a problem that affects the entire planet, and the longer it takes 'us,' the people on this planet, to take action, the more difficult it will be to resolve the problem," Donnelly said. "We urgently need to take at least minimal action to try to reduce emissions and move toward taking more significant action to reduce global warming."

More information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has more on global warming.

SOURCES: Kirby Donnelly, Ph.D., head, environmental and occupational health, Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health, College Station; May 13, 2009, teleconference with Anthony Costello, M.B., professor, international child health, and director, Institute for Global Health, University College London; Mark Maslin, Ph.D., director, Environment Institute, and head, geography, University College London; and Hugh Montgomery, M.D., director, Institute for Human Health and Performance, University College London; May 16, 2009, The Lancet

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