- Open Access
Public Health and Global Climate Disruption
Public Health Reviews volume 35, Article number: 12 (2013)
Climate change presents a significant challenge to global health. This paper examines the health impacts of climate change from extreme weather events, temperature changes, rising sea levels and changes in precipitation. These health impacts include heat-related illnesses and deaths, air pollution-related health effects, allergic diseases, infectious diseases, malnutrition, and disasters associated with extreme weather-related health effects such as hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, fires, heavy precipitation, storms and flooding. Most populations will be impacted by climate change in the next decades, putting peoples’ lives and wellbeing at risk. Vulnerable populations across the globe will be impacted disproportionately due to climate change. It is populations that are often least responsible for climate change that experience the greatest adverse impacts, raising important moral issues of equity and fairness. In addition to reviewing the literature on the health impacts of climate change, this paper will examine issues of inequity across vulnerable populations and generations due to climate change, the health co-benefits of greenhouse gas mitigation, and potential options for adaptation to increasingly extreme weather events.
Climate Change 2013 — The Physical Science Basis: Working Group I Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. New York (NY): Cambridge University Press; 2014. Available from URL: http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/report/WGl AR5_Front matter_FINAL.pdf (Accessed 9 July 2014).
Haines AP, Patz, JA. Health effect of climate change. American Medical Association. JAMA. 2004;291:99–103.
Patz JA. Climate change. In: Frumkin H, (editor). Environmental Health: From Global to Local. (2nd Edition). San Francisco (CA): John Wiley … Sons Inc; 2010.
Hanna EG, Kjellstrom T, Bennett C, Dear K. Climate change and rising heat: population health implications for working people in Australia. Asia Pac J Public Health. 2011;23:S14–26.
Maloney S, Forbes C. What effect will a few degrees of climate change have on human heat balance? Implications for human activity. Int J Biometeorol. 2011;55:147–60.
Kjellstrom TB, Lemke, Otto M. Mapping occupational heat exposure and effects in South-East Asia: ongoing time trends 1980–2009 and future estimates to 2050. Ind Health. 2013;51:56–67.
Kjellstrom TI, Holmer, Lemke B. Workplace heat stress, health and productivity — an increasing challenge for low and middle-income countries during climate change. Glob Health Action. 2009;2.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heat-related deaths after an extreme heat event — four states, 2012, and United States, 1999–2009. MMWR Wkly. 2013;62:433–6.
Anderson GB, Bell ML. Heat waves in the United States: mortality risk during heat waves and effect modification by heat wave characteristics in 43 U.S. communities. Environ Health Perspect. 2011;119:210–8.
Rocklov JK, Ebi K, Forsberg B. Mortality related to temperature and persistent extreme temperatures: a study of cause-specific and age-stratified mortality. Occup Environ Med. 201;68:531–6.
Semenza JC, Rubin CH, Falter KH, Selanikio JD, Flanders WD, et al. Heat-related deaths during the July 1995 heat wave in Chicago. N Engl J Med. 1996;335:84–90.
Robine JM, Cheung SL, LeRoy S, Van Oyen H, Herrman FR. Report on excess mortality in Europe during summer 2003. EU Community Action Programme for Public Health, Grant Agreement 2005. February 2007.
Brucker G. Vulnerable populations: Lessons learnt from the summer 2003 heat waves in Europe. Eurosurveillance. 2005;10:146.
Kosatsky T. The 2003 European Heat Waves. Eurosurveillance. 2005; 10:147.
Hayhoe K, Sheridan S, Kalkstein L, Greene S. Climate change, health waves, and mortality projections. J Great Lakes Research. 2010;36:65–73.
Peng, RD, Bobb JF, Tebaldi C, McDaniel L, Bell ML, Dominici F. Toward a quantitative estimate of future heat wave mortality under global climate change. Environ Health Perspect. 2011;119:701–6.
Li B, Sain S, Mearns L, Anderson H, Kovats S, et al. The impact of extreme heat on morbidity in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Climatic Change. 2012;110:959–76.
Hajat S, O’Connor M, Kostasky T. Health effects of hot weather: from awareness of risk factors to effective health protection. Lancet. 2010;375:856–63.
O’Neill MS, Jackman DK, Wyman M, Manarolla X, Gronlund CJ, et al. US local action on heat and health: are we prepared for climate change? Int J Public Health. 2010;55:105–12.
International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies. World disaster report 1998. New York (NY): Oxford University Press; 1998.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007 (AR4). Working Group II Report. Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. New York (NY): Cambridge University Press; 2007.
Guha-Sapir D, Vos F, Below R. Annual disaster statistical review 2010 The numbers and trends. Brussels: Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters; 2011(1–50).
Dar OA, Khan MS, Murray V Conducting rapid health needs assessments in the cluster era: experience from the Pakistan flood. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2011;03:212–6.
The World Bank. Disaster risk management programs for priority countries -2nd edition. Washington (DC): World Bank; 2011.
United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and The World Bank. Disaster risk management programs for priority countries: summary. Washington, (DC): Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery; 2008.
Arnall A, Thomas D, Twyman C, Liverman D. Flooding, resettlement, and change in livelihoods: evidence from rural Mozambique. Disasters. 2013;37: 468–88.
Brouwer R, Nhassengo J. About bridges and bonds: community responses to the 2000 floods in Mabalane Mozambique district. Disasters. 2006;30:234–55.
Powell T. Hänfling D, Gostin LO. Emergency preparedness and public health: the lessons of hurricane Sandy. JAMA. 2012;308:2569.
Kunkel KE, Easterline DR, Redmond K, Hubbard K. Temporal variations of extreme precipitation events in the United States: 1895–2000. Geophys Res Lett. 2003;30.
Trenberth K. Uncertainty in hurricanes and global warming. Science. 2005;308:1753–4.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (NOAA). Sea surface temperatures reach highest level in 150 years on Northeast Continental Shelf. NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Advisory 2013-No. 1, 25 April 2013, SS13.04.
Gray, WM. Hurricanes: Their formation, structure and likely role in the tropical circulation. In: Shaw DB, (editor). Meteorology over the Tropical Oceans. London: Royal Meteorology Society; 1979.
Goldenberg SB, Landsea CW, Mestas-Nunez AM, Gray WM. The recent increase in Atlantic hurricane activity: causes and implications. Science. 2001;293:474–9.
Bender MA, Knutson TR, Tuleya RE, Sirutis J J, Vecchi GA, et al. Modeled impact of anthropogenic warming on the frequency of intense Atlantic hurricanes. Science. 2010;327:454–8.
Webster PJ, Holland GJ, Curry JA, Chang HR. Changes in tropical cyclone number, duration, and intensity in a warming environment. Science. 2005; 309:1844–6.
Emanuel K, Sundararajan R, Williams J. Hurricanes and global warming: results from downscaling IPCC AR4 simulations. Bull Amer Meteor Soc. 2008;89:347–67.
Handmer JY, Honda ZW, Kundzewicz N, Arnell G, Benito J, et al. Changes in impacts of climate extremes: human systems and ecosystems. In: Field CB, et al. (editors). Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. New York (NY): Cambridge University Press; 2012. p.231–90.
Finlay SE, Moffat A, Gazzard R, Baker D, Murray V. Health impacts of wildfires. PLoS Curr. 2012;4:e4f959951cce2c.
Johnston FH, Henderson SB, Chen Y, Randerson JT, Marlier M, et al. Estimated global mortality attributable to smoke from landscape fires. Environ Health Perspect. 2012;120:695–701.
Patz JA, Hahn MB. Climate change and human health: A one health approach. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2013;366:141–71.
Bangs MJ, Larasati RP, Corwin AL, Wuryadi S. Climatic factors associated with epidemic dengue in Palembang, Indonesia: implications of short-term meteorological events on virus transmission. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2006;37:1103–16.
Bi P, Zhang Y, Parton KA. Weather variables and Japanese encephalitis in the metropolitan area of Jinan city, China. J Infect. 2007;55:551–6.
Halide H, Ridd P. A predictive model for Dengue hemorrhagic fever epidemics. Int J Environ Health Res. 2008;18:253–65.
Wu PC, Lay JG, Guo HR, Lin CY, Lung SC, Su HJ. Higher temperature and urbanization affect the spatial patterns of dengue fever transmission in subtropical Taiwan. Sei Total Environ. 2009;407:2224–33.
Curriero FC, Patz JA, Rose JB, Lele S. The Association between extreme precipitation and waterborne disease outbreaks in the United States, 1948–1994. Am J Public Health. 2001;91:1194–9.
MacKenzie WR, Hoxie NJ, Proctor ME, Gradus MS, Blair KA, et al. A massive outbreak in Milwaukee of Cryptosporidium infection transmitted through the public water supply. New Engl J Med. 1994;331:161–7.
Hrudey SE, Payment P, Huck PM, Gillham RW, Hrudey EJ. A fatal waterborne disease epidemic in Walkerton, Ontario: comparison with other waterborne outbreaks in the developed world. Water Sei Technol. 2003;47:7–14.
Lipp EK, Kurz R, Vincent R, Rodriguez-Palacios C, Farrah SR, Rose JB. The effects of seasonal variability and weather on microbial fecal pollution and enteric pathogens in a subtropical estuary. Estuaries. 2001;24:266–76.
Thomas KM, Charron DF, Waltner-Toews D, Schuster C, Maarouf AR, Holt JD. A role of high impact weather events in waterborne disease outbreaks in Canada, 1975 — 2001. Int J Environ Health Res. 2006;16:167–80.
Patz JA, Vavrus SJ, Uejio CK, McLellan SL. Climate change and waterborne disease risk in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. Am J Preventive Med. 2008;35:451–8.
Vavrus S, Van Dorn J. Projected future temperature and precipitation extremes in Chicago. J. Great Lakes Res. 2010;36:1–6.
Paerl HW, Paul VJ. Climate change: links to global expansion of harmful cyanobacteria. Water Res. 2012;46:1349–63.
Checkley W, Epstein LD, Oilman RH, Figueroa D, Cama RI, et al. Effect of El Nino and ambient temperature on hospital admissions for diarrhoeal diseases in Peruvian children. Lancet. 2000;355:442–50.
Kolstad EW, Johansson KA. Uncertainties associated with quantifying climate change impacts on human health: A case study for diarrhea. Environ Health Perspect. 2011;119:299–305.
Zhang Y, Bi P, Hiller JE, Sun Y, Ryan P. Climate variations and bacillary dysentery in northern and southern cities of China. J Infect. 2007;55:194–200.
Bentham G, Langford IH. Environmental temperatures and the incidence of food poisoning in England and Wales. Int J Biometeorol. 2001;45:22–6.
Lake IR, Gillespie IA, Bentham G, Nichols GL, Lane C, et al. A re-evaluation of the impact of temperature and climate change on foodborne illness. Epidemiol Infect. 2009;137:1538–47.
D’Souza RM, Becker NG, Hall G, Moodie KB. Does ambient temperature affect foodborne disease? Epidemiology. 2004;15:86–92.
Kovats RS, Edwards SJ, Hajat S, Armstrong BG, Ebi KL, Menne B. The effect of temperature on food poisoning: a time-series analysis of salmonellosis in ten European countries. Epidemiol Infect. 2004;132:443–53.
Greenwood B, Mutabingwa T. Malaria in 2002. Nature. 2002;415:670–2.
World Health Organization. World Malaria Report 2011 — Summary and Key Points. 2011. Available from URL: http://www.who.int/malaria/world_malaria_ report_2011/wmr201 l_summary_keypoints.pdf (Accessed 9 July 2014).
Paaijmans, KP, Blanford S, Bell AS, Blanford JI, Read AF, Thomas MB. Influence of climate on malaria transmission depends on daily temperature variation. Proc Natl Acad Sei. 2010;107:15135–9.
Alonso D, MJ Bouma, Pascual M. Epidemic malaria and warmer temperatures in recent decades in an East African highland. Proc Biol Sei. 2011;278:1661–9.
Gething PW, Smith DL, Patil AP, Tatem AJ, Snow RW, Hay SI. Climate change and the global malaria recession. Nature. 2010;465:342–5.
Schlipkoter U, Flahault A. Communicable diseases: achievements and challenges for public health. Public Health Rev. 2010;32:90–119.
Pialoux G, Gauzere BA, Jaureguiberry S, Strobel M. Chikungunya, an epidemic arbovirosis. Lancet Infect Dis. 2007;7:319–27.
Burt FJ, Rolpf MS, Rulli NF, Mahalingam S, Heise MI Chikungunya: a re-emerging virus. Lancet. 2012;379:662–71.
Fischer D, Thomas SM, Suk JE, Sudre B, Hess A, et al. Climate change effects on Chikungunya transmission in Europe: geospatial analysis of vector’s climatic suitability and virus’ temperature requirements. Int J Health Geog. 2013;12(51).
Food and Agriculture Organization, IFAD and WFP The state of food insecurity in the world 2013: The multiple dimensions of food security. Rome: FAO; 2013.
Lloyd SJ, Kovats RS, Chalabi Z. Climate change, crop yields, and malnutrition: development of a model to quantify the impact of climate scenarios on child malnutrition. Environ Health Perspect. 2011;119:1817–23.
Battisti DS, Naylor RL. Historical warnings of future food insecurity with unprecedented seasonal heat. Science. 2009;323:240–4.
Nelson GC, Rosegrant MW, Koo J, Robertson R, Sulser T, et al. Climate change: impact on agriculture and costs of adaptation. Updated 2009. Washington, (DC): International Food Policy Research Institute; 2009.
Grace K, Davenport K, Funk C, Lerner AM. Child malnutrition and climate in Sub-Saharan Africa: An analysis of recent trends in Kenya. Applied Geography. 2012;35:405–13.
Hanigan IC, Butler CD, Kokic PN, Hutchinson MR Suicide and drought in New South Wales, Australia, 1970–2007. Proc Natl Acad Sei USA. 2012;109:13950–5.
Berry HL, Hogan A, Owen J, Rickwood DJ, Fragar L. Climate change and farmers’ mental health: risks and responses. Asia Pac J Public Health. 2011; 23:119–32.
Li T, Horton R, Kinney P. Projecting temperature-related mortality impacts in New York City under a changing climate. Epidemiology. 2011;22:S15.
Nitschke M, Tucker GR, Bi P. Morbidity and mortality during heatwaves in metropolitan Adelaide. Med J Aust. 2007;187:662–5.
Page LA, Hajat S, Kovats RS. Relationship between daily suicide counts and temperature in England and Wales. Br J Psychiatry. 2007;191:106–12.
Perera FP Children are likely to suffer most from our fossil fuel addiction. Environ Health Perspect. 2008;116:987–90.
Yu W, Vaneckova P, Mengersen K, Pan X, Tong S. Is the association between temperature and mortality modified by age, gender and socio-economic status? Sei Total Environ. 2010;408:3513–8.
Strand LB, Barnett AG, Tong S. Maternal exposure to ambient temperature and the risks of preterm birth and stillbirth in Brisbane, Australia. Am J Epidemiol. 2012;175;99–107.
Jamieson DJ, Theiler RN, Rasmussen SA. Emerging infections and pregnancy. Emerg Infect Dis. 2006;12:1638–43.
Peduzzi P, Chatenoux B, Dao H, De Bono A, Herold C, et al. Global trends in tropical cyclone risk. Nature Climate Change. 2012;2:289–94.
Tawatsupa B, Lim LL, Kjellstrom T, Seubsman SA, Sleigh A, and the Thai Cohort Study Team. The association between overall health, psychological distress, and occupational heat stress among a large national cohort of 40,913 Thai workers. Glob Health Action. 2010;3:10.3402/gha.v3i0.5034.
Powers Loxton D, Baker J, Rich JL, Dobson, AJ. Empirical evidence suggests adverse climate events have not affected Australian women’s health and well-being. Aust N Z J Public Health. 2012;36:452–7.
Hess JJ, Malilay JN, Parkinson AJ. Climate change: the importance of place. Am J Prev Med. 2008;35:468–78.
Samson J, Berteaux D, McGill MJ, Humphries MM. Geographic disparities and moral hazards in the predicted impacts of climate change on human populations. Global Ecology Biogeography. 2011;20:532–44.
McCarthy J, Canziani OF, Leary NA, Dokken DJ, White KS (editors). Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Third assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. New York (NY): Cambridge University Press; 2001.
Berry HL, Butler JR, Burgess CP, King UG, Tsey K, et al. Mind, body, spirit: co-benefits for mental health from climate change adaptation and caring for country in remote Australian Aboriginal communities. NSW Public Health Bull. 2010;21:139–45.
Patz JA, Gibbs HK, Foley JA, Rogers JV, Smith KR. Climate change and global health: quantifying a growing ethical crisis. Eco Health. 2007;4:397–405.
Patz JA, Kovats RS. Hotspots in climate change and human health. BMJ. 2002;325:1094–8.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth assessment report: climate change 2007 (AR4).
Stern N. The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review. Cambridge and New York (NY): Cambridge University Press; 2007.
Broome J. The ethics of climate change. Scientific American 2008;298:96–102.
Haines A, McMichael AJ, Smith KR, Roberts I, Woodcock J, et al. Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: overview and implications for policy makers. Lancet. 2009;374:2104–14.
ApSimon H, Aniann M, Astroem S, Oxley T. Synergies in addressing air quality and climate change. Climate Policy. 2009;9:669–80.
Smith KR, Balakrishnan K. Mitigating climate, meeting MDGs, and moderating chronic disease: the health co-benefits landscape. In: Commonwealth Health Ministers’ Update 2009. London: Commonwealth Secretariat; 2009. p. 59–65.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Integrated assessment of black carbon and tropospheric ozone. Nairobi, Kenya: UNEP; 2011.
Shindell DJ, Kuylenstierna JCI, Vignati E, Van Dingenen R, Amann M, et al. Simultaneously mitigating near-term climate change and improving human health and food security. Science. 2012;335:183–9.
Smith KR, Jerrett M, Anderson HR, Burnett RT, Stone V, et al. Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: health implications of short-lived greenhouse pollutants. Lancet. 2009;374:2091–103.
Smith KR, Dutta K, Chengappa C, Gusain PPS, Masera O, et al. Monitoring and evaluation of improved biomass cookstove programs for indoor air quality and stove performance: conclusions from the Household Energy and Health Project. Energy for Sustainable Development. 2007;11:5–18.
El-Fadel M, Ghanimeh S, Maroun R, Alameddine I. Climate change and temperature rise: implications on food- and water-borne diseases. Sei Total Enviro. 2012;437:15–21.
Chou WC, Wu JL, Wang YC, Huang H, Sung FC, Chuang CY Modeling the impact of climate variability on diarrhea-associated diseases in Taiwan (1996–2007). Sei Total Environ. 2010; 409:43–51
Semenza JC, Suk JE, Estevez V, Ebi KL, Lindgren E. Mapping climate change vulnerabilities to infectious disease in Europe. Environ Health Perspect. 2012;120:385–92.
Cheng JJ. Berry P. Health co-benefits and risks of public health adaptation strategies to climate change: a review of current literature. Int J Public Health. 2013;58:305–11.
Pucher J, Buehler R, Bassett DR, Dannenberg AL. Walking and cycling to health: a comparative analysis of city, state, and international data. Am J Pub Health. 2010; 100: 1986–92.
Grabow ML, Spak SN, Holloway TA, Stone B (JR), Mednick AC, Patz JA. Air quality and exercise-related health benefits from reduced car travel in the Midwestern United States. Environ Health Perspect. 2012;120:68–76.
Diamond-Smith N, Potts M. A woman cannot die from a pregnancy she does not have. Int Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2011;37:155–7.
Prata N. Making family planning accessible in resource-poor settings. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sei. 2009;364:3093–9.
Woodward A, Lindsay G, Singh S. Adapting to climate change to sustain health. WIREs Clim Change. 2011;2:271–82.
Lowe D, Ebi KL, Forsberg B. Heatwave early warning systems and adaptation advice to reduce human health consequences of heatwaves. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011; 8:4623–48.
McMichael C, Barnett J, McMichael AJ. An ill wind? Climate change, migration, and health. Environ Health Perspect. 2012;120:646–54.
McMichael AJ, McMichael C, Berry H, Bowen K. Climate- related displacement: health risks and responses. In: McAdam J, (editor). Climate Change and Displacement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Oxford: Hart Publishing; 2010. p.191–219.
Locke JT Climate change-induced migration in the Pacific region: sudden crisis and long-term developments. Geogr J. 2009;175:171–80.
About this article
Cite this article
Patz, J.A., Hatch, M.J. Public Health and Global Climate Disruption. Public Health Rev 35, 12 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03391697
- Global climate disruption
- public health
- climate change
- health impacts
- vulnerable populations