Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene, The Impact of Climate Change on Public Health, Human Rights, and Social Justice

Elsevier, Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene, Volume 2, 2018, Pages 435-439
B.S. Levy and J.A. Patz

Climate change is causing environmental consequences, including increased temperature, extremes of precipitation, sea level rise, and extreme weather events. Climate change is also causing direct consequences on public health, including heat-related disorders, respiratory and allergic disorders, infectious diseases, and injuries from extreme weather events. It is also causing indirect consequences on public health due to food insecurity, stress migration, and collective violence. All of these consequences create adverse effects on mental health of individuals, communities, and entire nations. At the global level, there is substantial social injustice; countries with the most greenhouse gas emissions suffer the least, and countries with the least emissions suffer the most. At national and local levels, there is much social injustice, with climate change having a disproportionate adverse effect on poor people, minorities, women, children, older people, and others. All sectors of society have responsibilities for addressing climate change, by mitigation and adaptation, while protecting human rights and promoting social justice.