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Steps to combat climate change would also improve human health, commission says

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h3416 (Published 23 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3416
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Climate change provides an opportunity to make big improvements in human health, because the changes needed to counter it will clean the air, encourage more active lives, rebuild cities in a more humane way, and improve the diet of those who live in them, a new report concludes.

If nothing is done, says the Lancet’s Commission on Climate Change (thelancet.com/commissions/climate-change), the threat to human health is huge, with increasing frequency of direct effects such as heatwaves, floods, droughts, and storms and indirect effects that include changes in the pattern of disease, insecure food supplies, involuntary migration, displacement, and conflicts. Taken together, these effects have the capacity to undo the gains of the past 50 years in development and human health.

But if the right steps are taken they will have many benefits beyond that of preventing the rise of global temperatures, the commission’s co-chair, Anthony Costello, told a press briefing at the Science Media Centre in London on 22 June.

“The effects of a 4°C rise in global temperatures are very …

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