Intended for healthcare professionals


Countdown tracks progress on health effects of climate change

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 09 November 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5159
  1. Alexander Tin-Han Yu, fellow1,
  2. Mona Sarfaty, director2
  1. 1Division of Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
  2. 2Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA
  1. Correspondence to: ATH Yu atyu{at}

Year on year, we can now see the work that must be done

Last week, the Lancet published its 2017 Countdown report on understanding, preventing, preparing for, and acting on the threat to human health from climate change.1 It follows a 2015 Commission on Health and Climate Change, which concluded that climate change was a “potentially catastrophic risk to human health,” but also “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.”2 This inaugural annual report details 40 baseline indicators to measure progress, threats to progress, the consequences of inaction, and essential steps for the healthcare sector to mitigate negative health effects of climate change.

The Countdown draws on data and expertise from every continent, updating key indicators in five categories roughly divided into research, adaptation and resilience, mitigation, economics and finance, and engagement by politicians and the public. This breadth includes input from climate scientists, engineers, economists, and doctors, to name a few, capturing the vast scope of the …

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