The potential impact of climate change on human health is one of the key public health issues of our time. The latest edition of Public Health Research & Practice (PHRP), a journal of the Sax Institute, examines how climate change will affect our health, and what public health researchers, policy makers and advocates can do to protect and promote health into the future.
In an editorial, co-Guest Editors Anthony Capon, the inaugural Professor of Planetary Health at the University of Sydney, and Carlos Corvalan, Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney Medical School, highlight research that suggests the health gains achieved over the past half century are being undermined by climate change, and tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of this century.
A review article in this issue looks at research since 2000 relating to climate change, allergens and allergy. It finds that higher temperatures and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may significantly boost levels of allergens in the air such as grass pollen.
Climate change is likely to increase the frequency of extreme weather events as well, meaning that disasters such as the Melbourne thunderstorm asthma event of 2016, which led to the deaths of 10 people, could become more common.
Despite these dangers, little to no research is being done in this area in Australia, says the author, an environmental health scientist at Sydney’s Macquarie University.
Another article looks at extreme events in the context of climate change. The authors from UNSW Sydney write that an increase in heatwaves is already occurring and will continue to worsen in a warming world.
We now need to focus on building resilience to deal with the future effects of extreme events, the authors say.
Other articles find that:
- Responding to the threat of climate change can provide opportunities to promote better health;
- A conceptual framework for climate change adaptation and mitigation for health points to where policies may best be implemented;
- Landscapers, architects and urban planners have a critical role to play in addressing the health impacts of climate change;
- Financial assistance from countries like Australia and New Zealand will be crucial to helping Pacific nations safeguard against the effects of climate change.
PHRP is Australia’s first online-only open access peer-reviewed public health journal, with a strong focus on connecting research, policy and practice.
Researchers are welcome to submit manuscripts and encourage their colleagues to submit. You can also subscribe to receive quarterly e-alerts when the journal is published, make suggestions about themes or topics for future issues, and follow us on Twitter @phrpjournal