Climate change remains an urgent public health concern

June 5, 2012, Public Library of Science

Top-down advocacy on health and climate at the UN level needs to be mirrored by bottom-up public health actions that bring health and climate co-benefits according to international experts writing in this week's PLoS Medicine.

The authors—public health experts from institutions in Sweden, Germany and South Africa—say: "It is becoming increasingly clear that maintaining a sustainable and healthy is something that can only be achieved by means of a concerted global effort, including large-scale and small-scale actions, in which the public health community must play an active part."

Evidence from many sectors shows substantial health impacts of , particularly for the most vulnerable and the authors argue that possible climate changes constitute a public health crisis at least as wide-ranging as the effects of tobacco on health. But according to the authors: "As yet there seems to be a lack of coherence in terms of clear public health messages about climate aimed at populations in general."

The authors say that there are some things that can help: "Encouraging people to walk and cycle rather than using motorised transport, and to eat healthier, locally produced foodstuffs, are clear examples that can bring both individual health benefits and reduced climate impact."

However, moving from the individual to the corporate and societal levels needs further actions. The authors say: "In general, individuals cannot regulate their lives in terms of carbon footprint, for example, in a way that is completely independent of the societies in which they live."

The authors argue that at the global level the need for consensus actions on climate that only governments can make is equally important, but say: "public health voices must be heard on health-related issues in those circles, including lending support and influence for legislation, regulatory action, or other reform designed to address climate and environmental concerns."

They conclude: "We hope that the continuing [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] process will nevertheless lead to an improving global prognosis—to which the community must contribute by effectively promoting health and climate co-benefits."

Explore further: Health must be central to climate change policies, say experts

More information: Nilsson M, Evengård B, Sauerborn R, Byass P (2012) Connecting the Global Climate Change and Public Health Agendas. PLoS Med 9(6): e1001227. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001227

Related Stories

Health must be central to climate change policies, say experts

March 19, 2012
Health must be taken into account in climate change mitigation strategies. It is not widely appreciated that there are many benefits to health that are likely to accrue from a low carbon economy, say experts in a special ...

Framework convention on global health needed

May 11, 2011
In this week's PLoS Medicine, Lawrence Gostin from Georgetown University, Washington DC, and colleagues argue that a global health agreement—such as a Framework Convention on Global Health—is needed and would inform ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.