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Impediments to Comprehensive Research on Climate Change and Health

National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Acton, ACT 0200, Australia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 6096-6105;
Received: 8 October 2013 / Revised: 31 October 2013 / Accepted: 6 November 2013 / Published: 12 November 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health)
PDF [251 KB, uploaded 19 June 2014]


During every climatic era Life on Earth is constrained by a limited range of climatic conditions, outside which thriving and then surviving becomes difficult. This applies at both planetary and organism (species) levels. Further, many causal influences of climate change on human health entail changes—often disruptive, sometimes irreversible—in complex system functioning. Understanding the diverse health risks from climate change, and their influence pathways, presents a challenge to environmental health researchers whose prior work has been in a more definable, specific and quantitative milieu. Extension of the research agenda and conceptual framework to assess present and future health risks from climate change may be constrained by three factors: (i) lack of historically-informed understanding of population-health sensitivity to climatic changes; (ii) an instinctual ‘epidemiologising’ tendency to choose research topics amenable to conventional epidemiological analysis and risk estimation; and (iii) under-confidence in relation to interdisciplinary collaborative scenario-based modeling of future health risks. These constraints must be recognized and remedied. And environmental researchers must argue for heightened public attention to today’s macro-environmental threats to present and future population health—emphasising the ecological dimension of these determinants of long-term health that apply to whole populations and communities, not just to individuals and social groupings. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; health; public health; research; history; modeling; policy; Goldilocks climate change; health; public health; research; history; modeling; policy; Goldilocks

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McMichael, A.J. Impediments to Comprehensive Research on Climate Change and Health. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10, 6096-6105.

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