series event

Climate Change and Health

Professor Andy Haines will deliver this lecture entitled 'Climate Change and Health'

Warming of the climate system, due largely to the burning of fossil fuels and land use change, is now considered by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to be ‘unequivocal’. Over recent decades many of the observed changes have become unprecedented in magnitude, in some cases for millennia.  Of the warmest years on record, 16 out of 17 have been since 2001. Many poor populations are at an increased risk of extreme heat exposure and other climate events, for example because they live in areas more prone to flooding than more affluent populations. Climate change can also push more people into poverty, for example increasing thermal stress reduces the ability to work outdoors in sub-tropical and tropical climates and will therefore reduce income of already deprived populations. A major concern is the adverse effects on crop yield as a result of climate change. The IPCC for example estimated a likely median decline of 0-2 % in crop yield per decade whilst demand for crops is increasing at 14% per decade. A systematic review of over 1000 studies, suggested that “climate change is a threat to crop productivity in areas that are already food insecure.” There is evidence that severe childhood stunting in Africa and South Asia will increase markedly under climate change.

Many climate scientists consider that it is imperative to keep warming to less than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels to reduce the risks of dangerous climate change. The agreement in Paris was a major political triumph, but is inadequate to achieve this objective and could result in warming of around 3 degrees C by the end of the century.  Many policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can yield improvements in human health , for example reduced coal combustion can lead to reduced air pollution deaths and increased walking and cycling in cities can reduce air pollution and the incidence of diseases related to physical inactivity (e.g. ischaemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes). Dietary change resulting in reduced consumption of animal products in high consuming populations and increased consumption of fruit, vegetable and seeds can reduce GHG emissions and land use requirements as well as improving health. Valuing these co-benefits can make such policies more attractive to decision makers and incentivise action.

The Global Health Lecture Series is held every Monday during the first two terms, with the exception of Reading Weeks. Leading experts from the School present up-to-date summaries and debates about a range of global health issues.  Each lecture is 45-60 minutes, followed by Q&A, and they are open to all students as well as anyone interested in learning more about global health.

Please note the lectures are very popular, so you are advised to arrive early.

Session recordings are made available in the Panopto block on the top right of the Global Health Series Moodle page.


Free and open to all.