Is climate change the greatest threat to global health?

  • Papworth A
  • Maslin M
  • Randalls S
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This commentary critically engages with the argument that climate change is the greatest threat to global health in the twenty-first century. A review of climate-health examples suggests that although it is important to be aware of the risk that climate change presents, health status is caused and mediated by multiple exposures. The current evidence suggests the impact of climate change over the next 30 years is not going to be catastrophic for health, and positioning it as the greatest threat - instead of other important factors such as poverty and health inequalities - could obscure the potential of current global health measures and reduce focus on other health risks such as non-communicable diseases and HIV/AIDS. Although climate change mitigation is vitally important to reduce far-future harm, the policymaking community should focus on current interventions that reduce populations' exposure to climate change, boost populations' ability to adapt, and reduce health inequalities.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adaptation
  • Climate change
  • Global health
  • Mitigation

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  • Andrew Papworth

  • Mark Maslin

  • Samuel Randalls

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