For most of human history, life expectancy was low and population growth was slow. Advances in agriculture, technology, courage to change al anon pdf public health allowed rapid population growth.
Fossil fuels facilitated these advances, but cause global warming and climate change. Climate change profoundly threatens human health through a variety of pathways. Health professionals should support education, mitigation, and adaptation efforts. The health of populations depends on the availability of clean air, water, food, and sanitation, exposure to pathogens, toxins and environmental hazards, and numerous genetic, behavioral and social factors.
For many thousands of years, human life expectancy was low, and population growth was slow. To a large extent, the spectacular growth of human populations during the past two centuries was made possible by the energy extracted from fossil fuels. We have now learned, however, that greenhouse gases from fossil fuel combustion are warming the planet’s surface, causing changes in oceanic and atmospheric systems, and disrupting weather and hydrological patterns. Climate change poses unprecedented threats to human health by impacts on food and water security, heat waves and droughts, violent storms, infectious disease, and rising sea levels. Whether or not humanity can reduce greenhouse gas emissions quickly enough to slow climate change to a rate that will allow societies to successfully adapt is not yet known. This essay reviews the current state of relevant knowledge, and points in a few directions that those interested in human health may wish to consider. Check if you have access through your login credentials or your institution.