Wildfires: A conflagration of climate-related impacts to health and health systems. Recommendations from 4 continents on how to manage climate-related planetary disasters

Elsevier, The Journal of Climate Change and Health, Volume 4, 2021,100054,
Attila J. Hertelendy, Courtney Howard, Roberto de Almeida, Kate Charlesworth, Lwando Maki

The globe is struggling with concurrent planetary health emergencies: COVID-19 and wildfires worsened by human activity. Unfortunately, a lack of awareness of climate change as a health issue, as well as of the interconnections between biodiversity loss, habitat change, inequality, and zoonotic infections risks having decision makers and the health sector neglect opportunities that have the ability to reduce the risk of both in future years. A fundamental reorientation is required: we must move from ego to eco in order to improve our ability to thrive.

Here, as acute care specialists and planetary health researchers and policy workers from four continents we outline severe impacts from recent wildfires in each of our parts of the globe in order to urgently communicate recent lived experience of the Anthropocene. We follow with suggested priority investments that will set us up to better-weather the wildfires and infectious disease threats of a climate-changed century as we emerge from COVID-19.