Ruth Alcock, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK and Adrian Covaci, University of Antwerp, Belgium
The long-term good health of populations depends on the continued stability and functioning of the earth’s complex ecological and physical systems that underpin the distribution of resources on which all life depends. A whole systems ‘ecological’ perspective is the lens that allows us to understand and appreciate this complexity at different scales from individuals, communities to regional populations.
As our global climate changes and variability increases, we are witnessing multiple influences on human health. Changes in environmental temperature and moisture levels change the complex systems that regulate the quality of our environment and in so doing trigger changes in system response and our overall exposure levels. The risks are not equally shared with the poorest and most vulnerable in society (young, elderly and those with breathing and cardiovascular problems) that are most impacted. Changes in the migration of infectious diseases, air quality, heat-related morbidity, terrestrial and aquatic food systems, hydrological process, and waterborne disease incidence are just some of the topics we have featured recently in Environment International. Below you can find a selection of most recent and representative papers on this topic.
Understanding the changes and associated impact allows us to develop appropriate adaptive policies and practices to respond to climate-sensitive health risks.