Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 49–64

Climate Change and Climate Variability: Adaptations to Reduce Adverse Health Impacts

  • Anthony J. McMichael
  • R. Sari Kovats
Article

Abstract

Global climate change is likely to have a range of consequences for human health as a result of disturbance or weakening of the biosphere's natural or human-managed life support systems. The full range of potential human health impacts of global climate change is diverse and would be distributed differentially spatially and over time. Changes in the mortality toll of heatwaves and changes in the distribution of vector-borne infectious diseases may occur early. The public health consequences of sea level rise and of regional changes in agricultural productivity may not occur (or become apparent) for several decades. Vulnerability is a measure of both sensitivity to climate change and the ability to adapt in anticipation of, or in response to, its impacts. The basic modes of adaptation to climate-induced health hazards are biological, behavioural and social. Adaptation can be undertaken at the individual, community and whole-population levels. Adaptive strategies should not introduce new health hazards. Enhancement of the acknowledged public health infrastructure and intervention programmes is essential to reduce vulnerability to the health impacts of climate change. In the longer-term, fundamental improvements in the social and material conditions of life and in the reduction of inequalities within and between populations are required for sustained reduction in vulnerability to environmental health hazards.

climate change El Niño Southern Oscillation public health adaptation primary prevention 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony J. McMichael
    • 1
  • R. Sari Kovats
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyPopulation Health London School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineLondonUnited Kingdom

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