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Climate Change and the Health of NationsFamines, Fevers, and the Fate of Populations$
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Anthony McMichael

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190262952

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190262952.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 October 2021

Climatic Choreography of Health and Disease

Climatic Choreography of Health and Disease

3 (p.51) Climatic Choreography of Health and Disease
Climate Change and the Health of Nations

Anthony McMichael

Oxford University Press

Ever Since Humans First looked to the skies for relief, the changing mood of the climate has been assumed to be beyond human control, other than through supplication, ceremony, and ritual sacrifice. In secu­lar modern times, there has been little interest in studying climatic influ­ences on patterns of disease and survival. After all, we can curb cigarette smoking, but we cannot change the climate. Or so we thought. Now, though, there is new interest in understanding how human- driven cli­mate change affects human health, in the present and into the future. The risks to human health extend far beyond the well- known dangers from heat extremes, fires, floods, and mosquito proliferation, as signaled in Chapter 1. Changes in regional climates influence crop yields and livestock productivity and hence the occurrence of hunger, undernutri­tion, and stunted child development; they affect the ranges, seasonality, and rates of many infectious diseases. Heightened extremes of weather precipitate cholera outbreaks in impoverished crowded communities and, given the often destructive impacts of many events, can result in post- traumatic stress, long- term depression, and survivor guilt. The list goes on. There are both physical and mental health conse­quences of rural droughts and climate- exacerbated population displace­ment, migration, and resource conflicts. In the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic region, where 2°C warming has already occurred since 1950, the loss of coastal sea ice and permafrost is disrupting traditional Inuit hunting routines. Without access to prey species such as seals and cari­bou, physical activity levels have decreased and the population’s reliance on imported energy- dense processed foods has increased. Rising levels of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type II diabetes have been the result. As climate change tightens its grip in coming decades, an increasing portion of all adverse health impacts is likely to result from indirect ef­fects such as reduced food yields, depleted freshwater supplies, and loss of the physical protection provided by reefs, mangroves, and forests. In the past, moderately warmer periods in particular regions, spanning several centuries, often enhanced crop yields and population growth.

Keywords:   blue-tongue virus, dataset, dengue fever, food crises, gastroenteritis, infectious disease, mental health, post-traumatic stress disorders, sea level rise

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