Edited by A. J. McMichael, A. Haines, R. Slooff and S. Kovats
Change and Human Health
research, and the development of validated predictive models to enable
us foresee likely impacts, are urgently needed. this enhanced research
effort must be accompanied by precautionary measures to abate the process
of climate change.
strategies to reduce the health hazards of climate change cannot be piecemeal.
Policy responses must be made across many sectors, including industry,
transportation, forestry, and agriculture.
include industrial emissions control, energy conservation measures, land-use
policies to maximize CO2 sinks, and population policies to minimize energy
demand and destruction of natural CO2 sinks. Attempts to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions are likely to fail if the world's natural CO2 sinks continue
to be depleted by deforestation.
in relation to climate change will need to be taken on the basis of reasonable
and prudent anticipation rather than demonstrable consequences. Precautionary
measures aimed at reducing greenhouse warming will have many beneficial
immediate effects on public health. For example, controlling air pollution
and population growth would reduce stress --- in the form of acid precipitation
and excessive demand --- on water resources.
health gains weigh favorably in the policy debate, which must consider
potentially irrevocable loner-term health consequences simultaneously
with vast uncertainties.
nations emerged economically at a time when environmental integrity and
human health were not recognized as being linked to the sustainability
of natural resources. But although the adverse consequences of environmentally
insensitive economic growth are now understood, wealthy countries cannot
expect poorer nations to unilaterally forego the short-term profits to
be obtained from use of their natural resources.
development will only be possible if environmentally sound technology
is transferred from industrialized to developing countries. If less energy-intensive,
affordable technologies are promoted and transferred to developing countries,
pollutant emissions will be reduced and the global community as a whole
will benefit. If not poorer nations will have no financial incentives
to refrain from using cheap energy-inefficient technology or from harvesting
their natural resources.
If adverse population health consequences are likely to result from climate change, we do not have the usual option of seeking definitive empirical evidence before acting. When the environmental health hazards arise from ecologically disruptive and potentially irreversible global environmental processes, such a "wait-and-see" approach would be imprudent at best and nonsensical at worst.
Work on the report began in 1993 following receipt of a grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Further financial resources were obtained from the government of the Netherlands and the three participating UN agencies (WHO,WMO, and UNEP, with WHO designated the coordinating agency). An international task group of experts was formed under the direction of A. J. Michael, and met three times in two years. The views expressed in the report reflect the consensus reached by this Task Group and do not necessarily reflect the the policies of the participating agencies.