Climate change and human health: Present and future risks

Anthony J. McMichael*, Rosalie E. Woodruff, Simon Hales

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    1882 Citations (Scopus)


    There is near unanimous scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity will change Earth's climate. The recent (globally averaged) warming by 0·5°C is partly attributable to such anthropogenic emissions. Climate change will affect human health in many ways - mostly adversely. Here, we summarise the epidemiological evidence of how climate variations and trends affect various health outcomes. We assess the little evidence there is that recent global warming has already affected some health outcomes. We review the published estimates of future health effects of climate change over coming decades. Research so far has mostly focused on thermal stress, extreme weather events, and infectious diseases, with some attention to estimates of future regional food yields and hunger prevalence. An emerging broader approach addresses a wider spectrum of health risks due to the social, demographic, and economic disruptions of climate change. Evidence and anticipation of adverse health effects will strengthen the case for pre-emptive policies, and will also guide priorities for planned adaptive strategies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)859-869
    Number of pages11
    JournalThe Lancet
    Issue number9513
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2006


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