25 June 2008

Health impact assessment of global climate change: expanding on comparative risk assessment approaches for policy making

Jonathan Patz, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Holly Gibbs, and Rosalie Woodruff
Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 29: 27-39 (Volume publication date April 2008) 

Abstract

Climate change is projected to have adverse impacts on public health. Cobenefits may be possible from more upstream mitigation of greenhouse gases causing climate change. To help measure such cobenefits alongside averted disease-specific risks, a health impact assessment (HIA) framework can more comprehensively serve as a decision support tool. HIA also considers health equity, clearly part of the climate change problem. New choices for energy must be made carefully considering such effects as additional pressure on the world's forests through large-scale expansion of soybean and oil palm plantations, leading to forest clearing, biodiversity loss and disease emergence, expulsion of subsistence farmers, and potential increases in food prices and emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Investigators must consider the full range of policy options, supported by more comprehensive, flexible, and transparent assessment methods.