Briefing Paper

Anthony J McMichael
  • The risks to population health and survival, and to social stability, from climate change are greater than have been generally appreciated.
  • Further climatic influences are likely to cause direct and indirect adverse effects, including on mental health. These impacts will threaten the pursuit of health gains in lower-income regions. Population health may be further threatened by tensions, displacement and conflict.
  • Global health and development strategies must address the health risks of human-induced climate change as well as promote low-carbon strategies that improve health.
  • Current economic estimates heavily underestimate the risks that poor health poses to labour and capital.
  • The cost of expanded emergency services, healthcare facilities, extended surveillance and prevention programmes, resettling displaced groups and falls in workforce productivity will grow, impeding other social and economic goals.
  • Mitigation offers 'win-win' opportunities for enhancing population health. Meanwhile, near-term and longer-term adaptation strategies are needed to lessen the adverse health impacts of climate change.