Health Security and Environmental Change

Authored by: Robert L. Ostergard , Derek Kauneckis

Routledge Handbook of Global Health Security

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415645478
eBook ISBN: 9780203078563
Adobe ISBN: 9781136155574


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The implications of climate change for human health security are wide-ranging and profound. Because climate plays a central aspect in so many of the ecological systems on which human systems rely – from hydrological systems that provide the quantity and quality of water we have come to expect, to stable spatial distributions of species and their associated pathogens, and even the predictability of the timing and severity of extreme weather events – changes to the climate cycle will impact a broad range of human activities and have associated health impacts. However, determining the influence of a changing climate challenges both our understanding of health security risks as well as the complex interactions between climatic, natural, and human systems. As an emerging area of research focused on potential future conditions it is a literature filled with debate and contestation. This chapter reviews the current state of research on climate change impacts to human health security. Health security in this chapter has two interpretations, which are common themes in the discussion of health security. First is the notion of “health security” that refers to securing health itself. The second are the notions of “health and security” that refers to the contributions of health to global security (Aldis 2008). We address both concepts in this chapter. The chapter begins with an overview of climate science, moves on to examine research on the influence of climate change on a variety of aspects of health security, and concludes with a discussion of climate change policy and human health.

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