Intended for healthcare professionals


Climate change, ill health, and conflict

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 05 April 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1819

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Lionel Jarvis, surgeon rear admiral1,
  2. Hugh Montgomery, professor2,
  3. Neil Morisetti, rear admiral1,
  4. Ian Gilmore, professor3
  1. 1Ministry of Defence, London SW1A 2HB, UK
  2. 2UCL Institute for Public Health and Performance, London, UK
  3. 3Royal Liverpool Hospital, Liverpool L7 8XP, UK
  1. sgacds-acdshealth{at}

Are interrelated, so collaboration between medical and military professions is needed

Damage to the fabric of human society is bad for human health. It can occur for reasons other than war. A recent report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has highlighted that the effects of climate change will present a threat to collective security and global order in the first half of the 21st century.1 This will limit access to food, safe water, power, sanitation, and health services and drive mass migration and competition for remaining resources. Starvation, diarrhoea, and infectious diseases will become more common, and neonatal and adult mortality will rise, as a result of conflict.2 In accordance with this, in 2004, seven of the 10 countries with the highest mortality rates in children under 5 were conflict or immediate post-conflict societies.3.

The IISS report states that “The earth is warming, and has been for at least a century,” with this being “directly attributable to the increasing emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.” As a result, “Climate change may already be changing weather and precipitation patterns” and will continue to drive extreme weather events and changes in water resources (through flood, drought, and …

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