Environmental health implications of global climate change
This paper reviews the background that has led to the now almost-universally held opinion in the scientific community that global climate change is occurring and is inescapably linked with anthropogenic activity. The potential implications to human health are considerable and very diverse. These include, for example, the increased direct impacts of heat and of rises in sea level, exacerbated air and water-borne harmful agents, and—associated with all the preceding—the emergence of environmental refugees. Vector-borne diseases, in particular those associated with blood-sucking arthropods such as mosquitoes, may be significantly impacted, including redistribution of some of those diseases to areas not previously affected. Responses to possible impending environmental and public health crises must involve political and socio-economic considerations, adding even greater complexity to what is already a difficult challenge. In some areas, adjustments to national and international public health practices and policies may be effective, at least in the short and medium terms. But in others, more drastic measures will be required. Environmental monitoring, in its widest sense, will play a significant role in the future management of the problem.