Climate change is what the people at the Pentagon like to call a "threat multiplier." Warming takes existing dangers like political instability in developing nations, and amplifies them in ways that can be hard to predict — but which are rarely positive. It's not just about melting icebergs and rising sea levels; a warmer world is likely to be a more unstable one as well, and more dangerous.
That goes for human health too. It can be tough to tease out the impacts of warmer temperatures and changing weather patterns on the spread of infectious diseases, for instance, but researchers are becoming more confident that climate change will prove a net negative for human health. That was the message from the heads of the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association (APHA) last week, when they came together to lay out the health case against global warming. The "evidence has only grown stronger" that climate change is responsible for an increasing number of health problems, including asthma, diarrheal disease and even deaths from extreme weather like heat waves, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the APHA.
That doesn't mean that spending money to reduce carbon emissions is always going to be the best way to tackle those health threats — for instance, poverty and hygiene often make the primary difference on the spread of infectious disease. But unchecked warming would just make tough health problems even tougher. Here's what to look out for.
Climate change is what the people at the Pentagon like to call a “threat multiplier.” Warming takes existing dangers like political instability in developing nations, and amplifies them in ways that can be hard to predict — but which are rarely positive. That goes for human health too.