Global climate change and health

September 18, 2000

In the second article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal series on environment and health, Dr. Andrew Haines and colleagues examine the impact of global warming on world health. Direct effects include morbidity and mortality from heat waves, drought, floods, storms and the breakdown of systems in the aftermath of weather disasters. Indirect effects include decreased crop productivity owing to pests and climate change, changing water availability, lower air quality, rising sea levels and animal-based diseases appearing in regions in which they had previously been unheard of.

The authors warn that these effects may no longer be entirely avoidable but conclude that physicians should still be advocating for reductions in fossil fuel combustion, among other environmental improvements.

"Although there is much that is unavoidably complex and uncertain about these large-scale risks to human population health, the case for health professionals urging a health-protecting, precautionary approach that will have multiple benefits remains clear," conclude the authors.
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Environment and health: 2. Global climate change and health - A. Haines, A.J. McMichael, P.R. Epstein

Canadian Medical Association Journal

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