Climate Change and Health: Transcending Silos to Find Solutions

Ann Glob Health. May-Jun 2015;81(3):445-58. doi: 10.1016/j.aogh.2015.08.002.

Abstract

Background: Climate change has myriad implications for the health of humans, our ecosystems, and the ecological processes that sustain them. Projections of rising greenhouse gas emissions suggest increasing direct and indirect burden of infectious and noninfectious disease, effects on food and water security, and other societal disruptions. As the effects of climate change cannot be isolated from social and ecological determinants of disease that will mitigate or exacerbate forecasted health outcomes, multidisciplinary collaboration is critically needed.

Objectives: The aim of this article was to review the links between climate change and its upstream drivers (ie, processes leading to greenhouse gas emissions) and health outcomes, and identify existing opportunities to leverage more integrated global health and climate actions to prevent, prepare for, and respond to anthropogenic pressures.

Methods: We conducted a literature review of current and projected health outcomes associated with climate change, drawing on findings and our collective expertise to review opportunities for adaptation and mitigation across disciplines.

Findings: Health outcomes related to climate change affect a wide range of stakeholders, providing ready collaborative opportunities for interventions, which can be differentiated by addressing the upstream drivers leading to climate change or the downstream effects of climate change itself.

Conclusions: Although health professionals are challenged with risks from climate change and its drivers, the adverse health outcomes cannot be resolved by the public health community alone. A phase change in global health is needed to move from a passive responder in partnership with other societal sectors to drive innovative alternatives. It is essential for global health to step outside of its traditional boundaries to engage with other stakeholders to develop policy and practical solutions to mitigate disease burden of climate change and its drivers; this will also yield compound benefits that help address other health, environmental, and societal challenges.

Keywords: adaptation; climate change; environmental change; global health; mitigation; multidisciplinary collaboration; prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Ecosystem
  • Food Supply*
  • Global Health*
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • Humans
  • Public Health*
  • Water Supply*