Lungs in a warming world: climate change and respiratory health

Chest. 2013 May;143(5):1455-1459. doi: 10.1378/chest.12-2384.


Climate change is a health threat no less consequential than cigarette smoking. Increased concentrations of greenhouse gases, and especially CO₂, in the earth's atmosphere have already warmed the planet substantially, causing more severe and prolonged heat waves, temperature variability, air pollution, forest fires, droughts, and floods, all of which put respiratory health at risk. These changes in climate and air quality substantially increase respiratory morbidity and mortality for patients with common chronic lung diseases such as asthma and COPD and other serious lung diseases. Physicians have a vital role in addressing climate change, just as they did with tobacco, by communicating how climate change is a serious, but remediable, hazard to their patients.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / adverse effects
  • Asthma / mortality
  • Climate Change*
  • Global Warming*
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / mortality
  • Survival Rate