Global Health Threats: Global Warming in Perspective

  • Date: 27/11/09

Indur Goklany (2009) Global public health: Global warming in perspective. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 14: 69-75. ABSTRACT: Some authorities have claimed that global warming is one of the most—if not the most—important public health threat of this century. They do not, however, support this assertion by comparative analysis of the relative magnitude and severity of various health threats. Such an analysis, presented here, shows that other global health threats outrank global warming at present, and are likely to continue to do so through the foreseeable future, even under the warmest scenario developed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Exaggerated and unsupported claims about the importance of global warming risk skewing the world’s public health priorities away from real, urgent health problems. Policies curbing global warming would, moreover, increase energy prices and reduce its usage, retarding both economic development and advances in human well-being. That would slow advances in society’s adaptive capacity to deal not only with the effects of global warming, but all other sources of adversity. Through the foreseeable future, global health would be advanced farther, faster, more surely, and more economically if efforts are focused not on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but on reducing vulnerability to today’s urgent health problems that may be exacerbated by global warming, while increasing adaptive capacity, particularly of developing countries, through economic development.

Goklany IM. 2009. Global public health: Global warming in perspective. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 14: 69-75

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