Public Health Climate Change and Human Health
by
Sotiris Vardoulakis
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 June 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 February 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0077

Introduction

There is increasing scientific evidence of the direct and indirect effects of climate change on human health. Direct impacts may be linked to changing weather patterns causing droughts, heat waves, floods, and windstorms, while indirect effects are those associated with the redistribution of diseases (e.g., malaria), pollutants (e.g., ozone), resources (e.g., food and water), and populations. Although in certain cases the effects on health are positive (e.g., reduced cold-related mortality in northern Europe), it is recognized that the adverse effects of climate change on human health are likely to outweigh any benefits in most parts of the world, with low-income countries being worst affected. This entry identifies resources that explore the effects of climate change on population health in both developed and developing countries. It also covers subtopics related to vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and related health risk assessment methods.

Introductory Works and Reviews

The references in this section include two introductory books, six reviews on climate change and health published in influential scientific journals, and two papers on the broad topic of climate change and food security. Maslin 2008 provides a short introduction to global warming, while Houghton 2009 gives a more comprehensive account of the science and policy of climate change. Costello, et al. 2009 focuses on managing the health impacts of climate change; Epstein 2005 gives a brief perspective on the health effects of climate change, mainly directed to health professionals; McMichael, et al. 2006 discusses the present and future risks of climate change for human health in a more technical review; Patz, et al. 2005 focuses on vulnerable regions; and St. Louis and Hess 2008 discusses the implications of climate change for global health. Brown and Funk 2008 focuses on the food security consequences of climate change in a paper that can be read in conjunction with LoBell, et al. 2008, which focuses on related needs for adaptation to climate change.

  • Brown, M. E., and C. C. Funk. 2008. Climate: Food security under climate change. Science 319:580–581.

    DOI: 10.1126/science.1154102Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper, published in one of the most influential scientific journals, focuses on the food security consequences of climate change, which are intrinsically related with public health, especially in developing countries.

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  • Costello, Anthony, Mustafa Abbas, Adriana Allen, Sarah Ball, Sarah Bell, Richard Bellamy, Sharon Friel, Nora Groce, Anne Johnson, Maria Kett, Maria Lee, Caren Levy, Mark Maslin, David McCoy, Bill McGuire, Hugh Montgomery, David Napier, Christina Pagel, Jinesh Patel, Jose Antonio Puppim de Oliveira, Nanneke Redclift, Hannah Rees, Daniel Rogger, Joanne Scott, Judith Stephenson, John Twigg, Jonathan Wolff, and Craig Patterson. 2009. Managing the health effects of climate change: Lancet and University College London Institute for Global Health Commission. Lancet 373:1693–1733.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60935-1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An extensive, multi-authored review (led by Professor A. Costello, Institute for Global Health, University College London) on the health effects of climate change, written for students and researchers. It makes a very good introductory text and provides a wealth of information and scientific references for more specialized reading.

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  • Epstein, Paul R. 2005. Climate change and human health. New England Journal of Medicine 353.14: 1433–1436.

    DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp058079Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A brief and eloquent perspective on the health effects of climate change, written by the associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School, and published in probably the most influential journal of clinical medicine. Epstein is one of the leading voices on this topic.

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  • Houghton, John T. 2009. Global warming: The complete briefing. 4th ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Comprehensive, nontechnical account of the science and policy of climate change, including discussions of its causes and effects, impacts on health, and adaptation and mitigation options. It is written as a textbook, with summaries and questions at the end of each chapter, but can be used by the general reader.

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  • Lobell, David B., Marshall B. Burke, Claudia Tebaldi, Michael D. Mastrandrea, Walter P. Falcon, Rosamond L. Naylor. 2008. Prioritizing climate change adaptation needs for food security in 2030. Science 319:607–610.

    DOI: 10.1126/science.1152339Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents an analysis based on statistical crop models and climate projections which attempts to identify priorities in adaptation to climate change in different food-insecure regions such as South Asia and southern Africa.

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  • Maslin, Mark. 2008. Global warming: A very short introduction. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Informative discussion about the impacts of global warming. It draws on material from the fourth assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Parry, et al. 2007, cited under General Reference) and presents the findings for a general readership. The book also discusses the politics of global warming, including adaptation to climate change and mitigation options.

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  • McMichael, Anthony J., Rosalie E. Woodruff, and Simon Hales. 2006. Climate change and human health: Present and future risks. Lancet 367:859–869.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68079-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A concise scientific review of the topic, focusing on certain technical aspects (e.g., whether health effects of climate change are detectable). McMichael is one of the leading authors on this topic. It provides a comprehensive list of scientific references.

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  • Patz, Jonathan A., Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Tracey Holloway, and Jonathan A. Foley. 2005. Impact of regional climate change on human health. Nature 438:310–317.

    DOI: 10.1038/nature04188Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A relatively brief review of the health impacts of climate change, focusing mainly on vulnerable regions. Interesting discussion of the health implications of climate variability, future predictions, and uncertainties. It is a technical reading by some of the leading authors in this research field.

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  • St. Louis, Michael E., and J. J. Hess. 2008. Climate change: Impacts on and implications for global health. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 35.5: 527–538.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.08.023Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A concise review of the health impacts of climate change at the global scale (mainly focusing on low-income countries) and implications for the practice of global health. Interesting discussion of promoting mutual awareness between the scientific communities studying global health and climate change.

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General Reference

Sources in this section include four reference books, the relevant publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and two journal papers. Schellnhuber, et al. 2006 gives a very comprehensive account of the topic, while a more specialized volume on climate change and human health, McMichael, et al. 2003, covers the relevant research outcomes presented in the IPCC Third Assessment Report. Ravindranath and Sathaye 2002 examines climate change from the point of view of a developing country. Ebi, et al. 2005 focuses on the integration of public health with climate change adaptation through a mumber of case studies. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (Parry, et al. 2007) on climate change’s impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability is also included. Hess, et al. 2008 discusses the importance of place in climate change adaptation, with examples from the United States; Bloomberg and Aggarwala 2008 examines the public health co-benefits of climate change mitigation actions. Finally, McMichael, et al. 2008 discusses the health impacts and inequalities of global environmental change.

  • Bloomberg, Michael R., and Rohit T. Aggarwala. 2008. Think locally, act globally: How curbing global warming emissions can improve local public health. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 35.5: 414–423.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.08.029Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A very interesting article about the co-benefits (and potential conflicts) of different strategies for climate change mitigation and public health. It focuses on two areas: air quality, greenhouse gases and public health; and urban sprawl, obesity, and road accidents. Fascinating statistics on greenhouse gases, economic growth, and public health relationships.

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  • Ebi, Kristie L., Joel B. Smith, and Ian Burton, eds. 2005. Integration of public health with adaptation to climate change: Lessons learned and new directions. New York: Taylor and Francis.

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    This book examines a diverse selection of public health case studies to draw lessons for adapting to climate change. It highlights the need to strengthen public health infrastructure along with the need to place human health within a broader ecological context. It emphasizes the role of poverty in creating vulnerability to climate change impacts.

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  • Hess, Jeremy J., Josephine N. Malilay, and Alan J. Parkinson. 2008. Climate change: The importance of place. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 35.5: 468–478.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.08.024Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper provides an overview of climate-related risks to human health associated with different places and regions in the United States (cities, coastal areas, deserts, islands, and border and arctic regions). It highlights the importance of place in community resilience, adaptation, and risk management in the public health sector.

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  • McMichael, Anthony J., Diarmid H. Campbell-Lendrum, C. F. Corvalán, Kristie L. Ebi, A. Githeko, J. D. Scheraga, and Alistair Woodward, eds. 2003. Climate change and human health: Risks and responses. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

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    Specialized edited book examining in detail a wide range of health impacts of climate change (extreme weather, infectious diseases, ultraviolet radiation, etc.). It includes technical information on monitoring health effects, adaptation and adaptive capacity, and developing policy responses to climate change. It includes findings from the IPCC Third Assessment report.

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  • McMichael, Anthony J., A. Nyong, and C. Corvalan. 2008. Global environmental change and health: Impacts, inequalities, and the health sector. British Medical Journal 336:191–194.

    DOI: 10.1136/bmj.39392.473727.ADSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This brief paper, published in a prestigious medical journal, discusses the unequal effects of climate change on health and sets out strategies to help prevent and lessen the harm. It makes the compelling argument that health professionals are well placed to contribute to preventive and adaptive strategies, and provides practical suggestions for achieving this.

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  • Parry, Martin L., O. F. Canziani, J. P. Palutikof, P. J. van der Linden, and C. E. Hanson, eds. 2007. Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    A huge collaborative study with global scope, drawing together current thinking on the subject from experts in a range of disciplines. Probably the most comprehensive and up-to-date report as of 2010, written by the world’s leading experts on climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability of natural and human environments, with a specialized chapter on human health. Report available online from the IPCC.

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  • Ravindranath, Nijavalli H., and Jayant A. Sathaye. 2002. Climate change and developing countries. Amsterdam: Kluwer Academic.

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    A reference book on climate change from a developing country’s point of view, covering a wide range of related aspects, such as greenhouse gas emissions, vulnerability, impacts and adaptation, mitigation policies and measures, development, equity, and sustainability. It briefly covers impacts on human health and includes results from the IPCC Second Assessment report.

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  • Schellnhuber, Hans-Joachim, Wolfgang Cramer, N. Nakicenovic, T. Wigley, and G. Yohe, eds. 2006. Avoiding dangerous climate change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Comprehensive edited book, prefaced by former UK prime minister Tony Blair, providing a detailed critique of the topic for a higher-education audience. It summarizes the available scientific information on key vulnerabilities, critical threshold, and impacts as of 2006 in a more condensed form than the official IPCC reports, but does not include the findings of the IPCC Fourth Assessment (Parry, et al. 2007).

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Textbooks

This section comprises four easily accessible textbooks with a broad scope that includes climate change and health. Aron and Patz 2001 provides a global overview of environmental change and public health issues for master’s-level students; Bryant 1997 focuses on climatic processes, causes of climate change, and impacts on health and ecosystems in his textbook primarily addressed to undergraduate students; and Frumkin 2010 has a very broad environmental health scope that puts climate change into a wider context, mainly for undergraduate reading. Finally, Griffiths, et al. 2009 is probably the first textbook to set out what health practitioners and students can do to mitigate the impacts of climate change by making health services more sustainable.

  • Aron, Joan L., and Jonathan Patz, eds. 2001. Ecosystem change and public health: A global perspective. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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    Textbook focusing on changes in human health related to global ecosystem change, including the interactions of major environmental forces and public health on a global scale. It includes skill-oriented chapters on epidemiological study designs and geographic information systems. The primary target audience is master’s-level students in public health with an interest in environmental health and seeking to integrate both infectious and noninfectious diseases.

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  • Bryant, Edward. 1997. Climate process and change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    An easy-to-understand book about climate change with a balanced treatment of the subject. It is targeted at both the general reader and students studying climatology, geography, and environmental science. It includes a chapter on the health impacts of climate change and could be recommended as a first text on climate processes and change.

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  • Frumkin, Howard, ed. 2010. Environmental health: From global to local. 2d ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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    A very comprehensive introductory textbook, offering an overview of the methodology and paradigms of environmental health, ranging from ecology to epidemiology, from toxicology to environmental health policy, and from risk assessment to communication. It also covers interlinked local and global issues, such as climate change, urbanization, and air pollution.

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  • Griffiths, Jenny, M. Rao, F. Adshead, and A. Thorpe, ed. 2009. The health practitioner’s guide to climate change. London: Earthscan.

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    There are substantial health benefits from mitigating climate change. This book provides an introduction, for health practitioners and students across all sectors of public health and medicine, to climate change and its current and future impacts on health. It describes the relationship between health and the environment, as well as the benefits for public health from tackling climate change.

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Journals

This section includes a mixture of natural science, public and environmental health, and climate research journals that have published influential articles on climate change and health. Nature is a leading interdisciplinary science journal with a very wide natural science audience. The Lancet is a leading medical journal that has published many influential articles on climate change and health. Two well-established environmental health journals are included: Environmental Health Perspectives, probably the most influential scientific journal in this field, which has published extensively on the topic of climate change and health; and Environmental Health, an online open-access journal that has also published relevant research. Finally, four journals on climate-related research are included: Climate Research, covering all aspects of the interactions of climate with humans and ecosystems; Climatic Change, focusing on causes and implications of climatic change; Global Environmental Change: Human and Policy Dimensions, an interdisciplinary journal spanning the social and natural sciences related to global environmental change; and the International Journal of Climatology, a journal spanning all aspects of climate science.

Bibliographies

Many academic, government, and nongovernmental websites provide information and references on climate change and health. The three websites included in this section have been selected because of their influence and completeness. The World Health Organization, the European Commission, and the US Environmental Protection Agency websites can be useful to the nontechnical reader looking for general information on climate change and human health, as well as to experts reviewing research evidence and policy developments.

Health Impacts

This section comprises journal papers on specific direct and indirect health impacts of climate change, including groups of diseases, such as infectious and vector-borne diseases, single diseases such as malaria, and extreme weather events such as floods. Some of the entries focus on certain regions or continents (e.g., Tanser, et al. 2003, a paper on malaria in Africa), while other entries have a global scope (e.g., Lloyd, et al. 2007, a paper on global diarrhea morbidity). Hajat, et al. 2003 reviews the health effects of flooding in Europe, while Kovats and Hajat 2008 reviews heat-stress-related effects on public health. McMichael, et al. 2007 explores the relations among food, energy, and health in the context of a changing climate; Kinney 2008 reviews the impacts of climate change on air quality and, consequently, human health; Zell 2004 examines the influence of global climate change on the (re)emergence of infectious diseases; and finally, Lake, et al. 2009 evaluates the impact of temperature and climate change on foodborne illness.

  • Hajat, Shakoor, Kristie L. Ebi, R. S. Kovats, B. Menne, S. Edwards, and A. Haines. 2003. The human health consequences of flooding in Europe and the implications for public health: A review of the evidence. Applied Environmental Science and Public Health 1.1: 13–21.

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    River and coastal floods are likely to increase in frequency in many parts of the world as a result of rising sea level and heavy rainfall associated with climate change. This is an authoritative review of the human health consequences of floods, including drowning, physical injuries, and mental disorders, in Europe.

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  • Kinney, Patrick L. 2008. Climate change, air quality, and human health. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 35.5: 459–467.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.08.025Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Authoritative review on the current and future impacts of climate change on air quality (including ozone, particulate matter, and aeroallergens) and human health, mainly focusing on studies carried out in United States. It also discusses adaptation strategies and research needs in this area of work.

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  • Kovats, R. Sari, and Shakoor Hajat. 2008. Heat stress and public health: A critical review. Annual Review of Public Health 29: 41–55.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.29.020907.090843Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    It is likely that the frequency of extremely high temperatures will increase substantially in temperate climates as a result of climate change. This paper critically reviews the impact of heat stress on public health, including discussion of assessment methods and key determinants of heat-related mortality and morbidity. Good reading for nontechnical audiences.

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  • Lloyd, Simon, R. Sari Kovats, and Ben Armstrong. 2007. Global diarrhoea morbidity, weather and climate. Climate Research 34.2: 119–127.

    DOI: 10.3354/cr034119Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Diarrhea rates can be affected by temperature and rainfall extremes associated with climate change. This paper presents the findings of a global cross-sectional study of diarrhea incidence in young children, drawing on published evidence in the preceding fifty years. It lends support to actions to mitigate climate change and programs for hygiene, water, and sanitation interventions in developing countries.

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  • Lake, I. R., I. A. Gillespie, G. Bentham, G. L. Nichols, C. Lane, G. K. Adak, and E. J. Threlfall. 2009. A re-evaluation of the impact of temperature and climate change on foodborne illness. Epidemiology and Infection 137.11: 1538–1547.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0950268809002477Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Higher temperatures resulting from climate change may cause an increased number of cases of foodborne illness. This paper explores the impact of temperature on foodborne illness (e.g., food poisoning, salmonellosis) in England and Wales, and whether this impact has changed over time. Adaptation to higher temperature, including improved food hygiene, is also discussed.

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  • McMichael, Anthony J., John W. Powles, Colin D. Butler, and Ricardo Uauy. 2007. Food, livestock production, energy, climate change, and health. Lancet 370:1253–1263.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61256-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Fascinating paper exploring the relations among food, energy, and health in the context of a changing climate. It places emphasis on the health risks posed by the worldwide growth in meat consumption, which can both exacerbate climate change and contribute directly to certain illnesses. Published in the Lancet series on “energy and health.”

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  • Tanser, Frank C., Brian Sharp, and David le Sueur. 2003. Potential effect of climate change on malaria transmission in Africa. Lancet 362:1792–1798.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14898-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An influential research paper on the effects of climate change on malaria, published in a high-impact medical journal. The authors used mathematical modeling and different climate scenarios to show that a prolonged transmission season is as important as geographical expansion for malaria transmission in Africa.

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  • Zell, Roland. 2004. Global climate change and the emergence/re-emergence of infectious diseases. International Journal of Medical Microbiology Supplements 293.37: 16–26.

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    It is assumed that global warming might lead to an increase of infectious disease outbreaks. While a number of studies link disease outbreaks to single weather events, no report unequivocally associates vector-borne diseases with increased temperatures and associated environmental changes. This paper discusses the complexities of pathogen transmission dynamics with different variables and challenges in assessing health risks.

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Vulnerability, Adaptation, and Health Protection

This section includes papers and books discussing the role of public health in reducing human vulnerability to climate change. This can be generally achieved by reducing the susceptibility and increasing the resilience of individuals, communities, health systems, and infrastructure to climate-related impacts by using a range of adaptation measures. Haines, et al. 2006 discusses impacts of climate change and vulnerabilities in the public health sector. Ebi, et al. 2006 presents an approach for assessing human health vulnerability and adaptation interventions. Keim 2008 discusses resilience-building strategies for extreme weather events that can be attributed to climate change. Fritze, et al. 2008 debates the emerging evidence about the relationship between climate change and mental health. Frumkin, et al. 2008 proposes a public health response to climate change based on existing public health services. Huq, et al. 2007 discusses how to reduce risks to cities from climate-related environmental disasters. Two books, Menne and Ebi 2006 on adaptation strategies and Adger, et al. 2006 on fairness in adaptation, are also included.

  • Adger, W. Neil, Jouni Paavola, Saleemul Huq, and M. J. Mace, eds. 2006. Fairness in adaptation to climate change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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    This edited book presents an assessment of the social-justice issues in adaptation to climate change. It describes the philosophical underpinnings of different types of justice in relation to climate change, present inequities, and future burdens, using real-world examples of climate change adaptation in several countries (Bangladesh, Tanzania, Hungary, and others)

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  • Ebi, Kristie L., R. Sari Kovats, and Bettina Menne. 2006. An approach for assessing human health vulnerability and public health interventions to adapt to climate change. Environmental Health Perspectives 114.12: 1930–1934.

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    This research paper, published as a mini-monograph in an influential environmental health journal, proposes a stepwise approach to country-level assessments of human health vulnerability to climate change. Interesting discussion on the application of risk-management principles to reduce current and future human health vulnerability to climate change.

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  • Fritze, Jessica G., Grant A. Blashki, Susie Burke, and John Wiseman. 2008. Hope, despair and transformation: Climate change and the promotion of mental health and well-being. International Journal of Mental Health Systems 2.1: 13.

    DOI: 10.1186/1752-4458-2-13Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This open-access paper provides an introduction to the emerging evidence and debate about the relationship between climate change and mental health. This includes the short- and long-term implications of climate change for mental health and its social and economic determinants.

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  • Frumkin, Howard, Jeremy Hess, George Luber, Josephine Malilay, and Michael McGeehin. 2008. Climate change: The public health response. American Journal of Public Health 98.3: 435–445.

    DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.119362Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A well-researched paper proposing a public health response to climate change, based on existing public health services (both clinical and population health). Mainly focusing on the United States, it emphasizes the importance of coordination among government agencies, academic institutions, private companies, and nongovernmental organizations.

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  • Haines, Andy, R. Sari Kovats, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, and C. Corvalan. 2006. Climate change and human health: Impacts, vulnerability and public health. Public Health 120.7: 585–596.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.puhe.2006.01.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Edited version of the influential 102nd Harben Lecture, presented at the Royal Institute of Public Health by Haines, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a leading author in the area of climate change and global health. It provides a good overview of impacts and vulnerabilities in the public health sector.

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  • Huq, Saleemul, Sari Kovats, Hannah Reid, and David Satterthwaite. 2007. Editorial: Reducing risks to cities from disasters and climate change. Environment and Urbanization 19.1: 3–15.

    DOI: 10.1177/0956247807078058Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A well-written editorial on the climate-change-related risks for cities, published in a specialized environmental journal. It addresses pertinent questions such as “Who is at risk?” and “Why do cities develop on risky sites?” and emphasizes the unfairness with regard to who causes the problems versus who is most affected.

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  • Keim, Mark E. 2008. Building human resilience: The role of public health preparedness and response as an adaptation to climate change. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 35.5: 508–516.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.08.022Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This very informative article discusses the role of public health in reducing human vulnerability to climate change within the context of selected examples of emergency preparedness and response from the United States. It proposes a number of resilience-building strategies for extreme weather events related to climate change (droughts, wildfires, floods, etc.)

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  • Menne, Bettina, and Kristie L. Ebi, eds. 2006. Climate change and adaptation strategies for human health. Darmstadt: Steinkopff.

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    This edited book presents the findings of a European research project with the same title (conventionally abbreviated cCASHh) led by the World Health Organization. It focuses on four areas of concern to public health: thermal stress, extreme weather events, vector- and rodent-borne diseases, and food- and waterborne diseases.

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Health Benefits of Mitigation Strategies

It has been increasingly recognized that mitigation strategies primarily aiming at reducing greenhouse gas emissions can provide a range of public health co-benefits in developed and developing countries. A group of papers on this topic was recently published in the Lancet series on “health and climate change,” and is included in this section: Wilkinson, et al. 2009 focuses on interventions in the household energy sector; Woodcock, et al. 2009 on urban land transport; Markandya, et al. 2009 on low-carbon electricity generation; Friel, et al. 2009 on food and agriculture; and Smith, et al. 2009 on short-lived greenhouse pollutants. Haines, et al. 2009 gives an overview of the interventions explored in this series and discusses implications for policymakers. Two relevant review papers published in different journals are also included: Bell, et al. 2008 on human health co-benefits of improved air quality resulting from climate change mitigation, and Younger, et al. 2008 on opportunities for health co-benefits in the built environment sector.

  • Bell, Michelle, Devra L. Davis, Luis A. Cifuentes, Alan J. Krupnick, Richard D. Morgenstern, and George D. Thurston. 2008. Ancillary human health benefits of improved air quality resulting from climate change mitigation. Environmental Health 7.1: 41.

    DOI: 10.1186/1476-069X-7-41Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Climate change mitigation policies can provide additional benefits in terms of short-term improvements in air quality and associated health effects. This comprehensive paper reviews studies that have analyzed the benefits of greenhouse-gas emission reduction for a variety of locations, pollutants, and policies.

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  • Friel, Sharon, Alan D. Dangour, Tara Garnett, Karen Lock, Zaid Chalabi, Ian Roberts, Ainslie Butler, Colin D. Butler, Jeff Waage, Anthony J. McMichael, and Andy Haines. 2009. Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: Food and agriculture. Lancet 374:2016–2025.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61753-0Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper from the Lancet series on “health and climate change” focuses on the health benefits (avoided ischemic heart disease cases) associated with strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the agricultural sector, including agricultural technological improvements and reductions in livestock production, in the UK and Brazil.

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  • Haines, Andy, Anthony J. McMichael, Kirk R. Smith, Ian Roberts, James Woodcock, Anil Markandya, Ben G. Armstrong, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Alan D. Dangour, Michael Davies, Nigel Bruce, Cathryn Tonne, Mark Barrett, and Paul Wilkinson. 2009. Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: Overview and implications for policymakers. Lancet 374:2104–2114.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61759-1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper summarizes the findings presented in the Lancet series on “health and climate change,” focusing on the implications for policymakers in four domains: household energy, transport, food and agriculture, and electricity generation. It argues very convincingly that actions to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions often entail net benefits for public health.

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  • Markandya, Anil, Ben G. Armstrong, Simon Hales, Aline Chiabai, Patrick Criqui, Silvana Mima, Cathryn Tonne, and Paul Wilkinson. 2009. Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: Low-carbon electricity generation. Lancet 374:2006–2015.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61715-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Another paper from the Lancet series on “health and climate change” that uses mathematical models and comparative risk assessment methods to assess the changes in air pollution and consequent effects on health that are likely to result from greenhouse-gas mitigation measures in the electricity generation sector in the European Union, China, and India.

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  • Smith, Kirk R., Michael Jerrett, H. Ross Anderson, Richard T. Burnett, Vicki Stone, Richard Derwent, Richard W. Atkinson, Aaron Cohen, Seth B. Shonkoff, Daniel Krewski, C. Arden Pope, Michael J. Thun, and George Thurston. 2009. Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: Health implications of short-lived greenhouse pollutants. Lancet 374:2091–2103.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61716-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Part of the Lancet series on “health and climate change,” this rather technical paper reviews the health effects of three greenhouse pollutants: black carbon, ozone, and sulphates. It includes a meta-analysis of existing epidemiological time-series studies and an analysis of a cohort study from the United States.

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  • Wilkinson, Paul, Kirk R. Smith, Michael Davies, Heather Adair, Ben G. Armstrong, Mark Barrett, Nigel Bruce, Andy Haines, Ian Hamilton, Tadj Oreszczyn, Ian Ridley, Cathryn Tonne, and Zaid Chalabi. 2009. Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: Household energy. Lancet 374:1917–1929.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61713-XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Part of the Lancet series on “health and climate change,” this study uses comparative risk assessment to quantify the public health benefits of climate change mitigation measures in the built environment (based on specific household energy-efficiency interventions) in case studies from the UK and India. A methodologically challenging and well-presented project.

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  • Woodcock, James, Phil Edwards, Cathryn Tonne, Ben G. Armstrong, Olu Ashiru, David Banister, Sean Beevers, Zaid Chalabi, Zohir Chowdhury, Aaron Cohen, Oscar H. Franco, Andy Haines, Robin Hickman, Graeme Lindsay, Ishaan Mittal, Dinesh Mohan, Geetam Tiwari, Alistair Woodward, and Ian Roberts. 2009. Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: Urban land transport. Lancet 374:1930–1943.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61714-1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Another multi-authored paper from the Lancet series on “health and climate change. It uses comparative risk assessment to estimate the health effects of alternative urban land transport scenarios (including lower-carbon-emission motor vehicles, increased active travel, and a combination of the two) in London and Delhi.

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  • Younger, Margalit, Heather R. Morrow-Almeida, Stephen M. Vindigni, and Andrew L. Dannenberg. 2008. The built environment, climate change, and health: Opportunities for co-benefits. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 35.5: 517–526.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.08.017Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper reviews opportunities for health co-benefits from greenhouse-gas emission reductions in the built environment, comprising transportation systems and infrastructure, building construction and use, and land use (including forestry and agriculture). It has a broader scope than the more specific and technical papers published in the Lancet series on “health and climate change.”

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Health Risk Assessment Methods

The entries in this section focus on risk assessment methods that can be used to quantify the impacts of climate change on public health. These methods, often referred to as burden-of-disease calculations, can be applied at local, regional, continental, or global scale. Campbell-Lendrum and Woodruff 2006 discusses comparative risk assessment methods developed by the World Health Organization that can be used to estimate disease burdens attributable to climate change; Kovats, et al. 2005 provides an additional in-depth discussion of these methods; while McMichael, et al. 2004, a comprehensive book chapter, mainly focuses on practical applications. Patz, et al. 2008 discusses methods for assessing the health impacts of global climate change in the wider context of policymaking. Kalkstein 1991 proposes a statistical approach for evaluating the impact of climate on human mortality, while Knowlton, et al. 2007 uses climate modeling to estimate future heat-related mortality. Finally, Markandya and Chiabai 2009 focuses on the estimation of monetary costs of climate-change adaptation measures in the health sector.

  • Campbell-Lendrum, Diarmid, and Rosalie Woodruff. 2006. Comparative risk assessment of the burden of disease from climate change. Environmental Health Perspectives 114.12: 1935–1941.

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    This article is part of the mini-monograph Climate Change and Human Health: National Assessments of Impacts and Adaptation. It discusses the comparative risk assessment methods developed by the World Health Organization for estimating disease burdens attributable to different risk factors and their application to climate change-related diseases. An assessment of the Oceania region is used to provide more location-specific information.

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  • Kalkstein, Laurence S. 1991. A new approach to evaluate the impact of climate on human mortality. Environmental Health Perspectives 96:145–150.

    DOI: 10.2307/3431223Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A pioneering paper assessing the impact of climate on mortality, based on a synoptic climatological classification. It presents a summary of the methodology and its application to a specific region in the United States. The use of this climatic classification method is compared with the use of common air pollution variables as predictors of daily mortality. This is technical reading for a specialized audience.

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  • Knowlton, Kim, Barry Lynn, Richard A. Goldberg, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Christian Hogrefe, Joyce Klein Rosenthal, and Patrick L. Kinney. 2007. Projecting heat-related mortality impacts under a changing climate in the New York City region. American Journal of Public Health 97:2028–2034.

    DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.102947Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This research paper is a good example of heat-related mortality risk assessment under climate change in a specific region. The methodology is based on a global-to-regional climate modeling system, a range of scenarios and assumptions about future trends in greenhouse gas emissions and human adaptation, and epidemiological evidence on heat-related mortality.

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  • Kovats, R. Sari, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, and Franziska Matthies. 2005. Climate change and human health: Estimating avoidable deaths and disease. Risk Analysis 25.6: 1409–1418.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2005.00688.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    It provides an in-depth discussion of comparative risk assessment methods used to quantify the impacts of climate change, including an interesting discussion about “critical” and “tolerable” thresholds for public health. It includes a useful appendix on the calculation of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), using the comparative risk assessment methodology.

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  • Markandya, Anil, and Aline Chiabai. 2009. Valuing climate change impacts on human health: Empirical evidence from the literature. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 6.2: 759–786.

    DOI: 10.3390/ijerph6020759Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This review paper focuses on the estimation of monetary costs of climate change adaptation measures in the health sector. It critically discusses assessment methodologies (such as cost-benefit analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis) used in this context, and identifies research weaknesses and gaps. It includes a useful summary of the impacts of climate change in different world regions.

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  • McMichael, Anthony J., Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Sari Kovats, Sally Edwards, Paul Wilkinson, Theresa Wilson, Robert Nicholls, Simon Hales, Frank Tanser, David Le Sueur, Michael Schlesinger, and Natasha Andronova. 2004. Global climate change. In Comparative quantification of health risks: Global and regional burden of disease due to selected major risk factors. Edited by Majid Ezzati, Alan D. Lopez, Anthony Rodgers, and Christopher J. L. Murray, 1543–1649. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

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    A very comprehensive book chapter describing how the effects of climate change on health can be estimated in practice. It includes sections on risk-factor definition and measurement, and on risk factor–disease relationships. Useful appendices on uncertainty around climate predictions, and models that directly relate climate change to selected health effects.

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  • Patz, Jonathan, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Holly Gibbs, and Rosalie Woodruff. 2008. Health impact assessment of global climate change: Expanding on comparative risk assessment approaches for policymaking. Annual Review of Public Health 29:27–39.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.29.020907.090750Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This review paper discusses methods for assessing the health impacts of global climate change in the wider context of policymaking. This includes the assessment of co-benefits from climate change mitigation strategies, environmental justice issues, and health equity aspects of the problem.

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Public Health, Health Policy, and Social Research

The entries in this section look at the topic of climate change and health from a health policy and/or social research angle. Friel, et al. 2008 focuses on global health equity; Barnett and Adger 2007 concentrates on human security and violent conflict associated with climate change; and Few 2007 frames social research on vulnerability and adaptation. Kessel 2006 has a wider scope, examining contemporary environmental health issues, including climate change, from conceptual, scientific, philosophical, and ethical points of view.

  • Barnett, Jon, and W. Neil Adger. 2007. Climate change, human security and violent conflict. Political Geography 26.6: 639–655.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2007.03.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper focuses on an aspect of climate change with important implications for human health: human security and violent conflict. It integrates three bodies of research—on the vulnerability of local places and social groups to climate change, on livelihoods and violent conflict, and the role of the state—to offer new insights into the relationships between climate change, human security, and violent conflict.

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  • Few, Roger. 2007. Health and climatic hazards: Framing social research on vulnerability, response and adaptation. Global Environmental Change 17.2: 281–295.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2006.11.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper uses social-science research to examine how key themes relate to health concerns, and to explore connections with existing health literatures. In this context, it develops a theoretical framework to aid analysis of how vulnerability to health impacts varies within society, and how actors make decisions and take action in relation to climatic hazards and health.

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  • Friel, Sharon, Michael Marmot, Anthony J. McMichael, Tord Kjellstrom, and Denny Vågerö. 2008. Global health equity and climate stabilisation: A common agenda. Lancet 372:1677–1683.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61692-XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This influential health-policy paper argues that the underlying determinants of health inequity and climate change overlap substantially, and it makes a compelling case for coherent global health equity and environmental health policies at global, national, and local levels. The discussion mainly focuses on three vital areas of work: urbanization, renewable energy, and sustainable food systems.

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  • Kessel, Anthony S. 2006. Air, the environment and public health. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    This book, addressed to students and professionals in public health and related disciplines, explores the changing perceptions of air, the environment, and health alongside historical developments in public health. It provides an interesting blend of public health science, history, ethics, and philosophy, with a focus on air pollution in Britain and climate change.

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