Health and mental health impacts of climate change

Climate change is recognised as the greatest health threat of the 21st century and has significant impacts on physical and mental health and psychosocial wellbeing.
There are likely to be some (modest) positive health consequences from climate change (for example, reduced extreme cold weather events in some locations); however, climate change is already and will predominantly have mostly negative, and in some circumstances devastating, impacts on human health, particularly on those with low adaptive capacity.

A recent Lancet Commission Report on Climate Change and Health shows that the threat to human health from climate change is so great that it could undermine the last fifty years of gains in development and global health

Climate change also has significant psychosocial and mental health impacts on individuals and communities. Rising sea levels, droughts and extreme weather events cause loss of habitat, water and food shortages, and threats to home and livelihood. The psychosocial and mental health impacts of these changes include displacement, dislocation from community, financial and relationship stress, multiple losses, increased risks of depression, anxiety-related disorders, grief and substance use disorders, and can lead to increased risks of national insecurity, violent conflict and increased mass migration. Indirect mental health consequences come in response to perceptions/fears of unprecedented scale of risks and observation of world-wide effects.

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Costello, A., Abbas, M., Allen, A., Ball, S., Bell, S., Bellamy, R…..Patterson, C. (2009). Managing the health effects of climate change: Lancet and University College London Institute for Global Health Commission. Lancet, 373, 1693–1733. Available at:

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LANCET articles: • Health and Climate Change: the Lancet.  Series on the public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Covers: household energy; urban land transport; low carbon electricity generation; food and agriculture; and short term lived greenhouse pollutants.

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Our Uncashed Dividend.  The health benefits of climate action.  Report on the significant immediate health benefits possible from taking action on climate change.

Patz,J.A., Frumkin, H., Holloway, T., Vimont, D.J., Haines, H. (2014). Climate Change Challenges and Opportunities for Global Health.  JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.13186
Published online September 22, 2014.

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