Climate change and health: the future isn’t what it used to be
Climate change could have far‐reaching consequences for human health across the 21st century. But there is at least some good news on how health systems are adapting.
‘It doesn’t take an extreme weather event to have an extreme health impact,’ said Professor Kristie Ebi, from the University of Washington, speaking at the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic conference in Canberra in February 2017.
People have a narrow capacity to adapt to high temperatures, so increasing ambient temperatures and heatwaves will increase vulnerability to heat-stress. Another consequence of climate change includes more pollen, which could exacerbate asthma and other respiratory diseases.
Changes in water availability and agricultural productivity could increase undernutrition, particularly in parts of Asia and Africa. ‘The biggest health consequence of climate change will likely be undernutrition,’ she said.
Kris noted good news when it comes to adaptation to increasing health risks from climate change. ‘Health services are starting to use weather and other environmental data for forecast systems,’ she said. ‘For example, early warning systems of dengue outbreaks can help prevent transmission.’
You can read more about this work at https://connect.coastadapt.com.au/discussion/460/climate-change-and-health-the-future-isnt-what-it-used-to-be.
Scientell worked with the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) on their online discussion about coastal adaptation, CoastExchange. You can read more feature articles about climate adaptation at https://connect.coastadapt.com.au/.
Written by Simon Torok