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Global Health: Global Health and Climate

Created by Health Science Librarians

"The Biggest Health Threat Facing Humanity"

Climate change can no longer just be viewed as just an ecological or environmental threat - the World Health Organization has declared that climate change is the "the single biggest health threat facing humanity." As the climate continues to warm unabated, the evidence points overwhelmingly to the fact that this changing climate will devestate the health of people living on this planet. 


The highly anticipated 2022 Countdown Report from the Lancet was released on October 26, 2022.  The phrase 'health at the mercy of fossil fuels' is found in the title, strongly emphasizing that our dependence on fossil fuels will be our downfall.

"With countries facing multiple crises simultaneously, their policies on COVID-19 recovery and energy sovereignty will have profound, and potentially irreversible consequences for health and climate change. However, accelerated climate action would deliver cascading benefits, with more resilient health, food, and energy systems, and improved security and diplomatic autonomy, minimising the health impact of health shocks. With the world in turmoil, putting human health at the centre of an aligned response to these concurrent crises could represent the last hope of securing a healthier, safer future for all."

The rest of this page will go into more detail about the specific ways that climate change can impact human health around the globe. 

Health Effects of Climate Change

Infographic of impacts of climate change on human health


The above graphic is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and provides a simple visualization for the myriad of ways that a changing climate will impact human health. 



The above figure is from the World Health Organization and gives an overview of climate-sensitive health risks, their exposure pathways and vulnerability factors. Climate change impacts health both directly and indirectly, and is strongly mediated by environmental, social and public health determinants.

Below are links to either articles or reputable web pages going more in-depth on the topics listed.