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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(10), 2266; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102266

Climate Change, Health and Existential Risks to Civilization: A Comprehensive Review (1989–2013)

National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra 0200, Australia
Received: 2 September 2018 / Revised: 6 October 2018 / Accepted: 14 October 2018 / Published: 16 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Health: An Interdisciplinary Perspective)
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Abstract

Background: Anthropogenic global warming, interacting with social and other environmental determinants, constitutes a profound health risk. This paper reports a comprehensive literature review for 1989–2013 (inclusive), the first 25 years in which this topic appeared in scientific journals. It explores the extent to which articles have identified potentially catastrophic, civilization-endangering health risks associated with climate change. Methods: PubMed and Google Scholar were primarily used to identify articles which were then ranked on a three-point scale. Each score reflected the extent to which papers discussed global systemic risk. Citations were also analyzed. Results: Of 2143 analyzed papers 1546 (72%) were scored as one. Their citations (165,133) were 82% of the total. The proportion of annual papers scored as three was initially high, as were their citations but declined to almost zero by 1996, before rising slightly from 2006. Conclusions: The enormous expansion of the literature appropriately reflects increased understanding of the importance of climate change to global health. However, recognition of the most severe, existential, health risks from climate change was generally low. Most papers instead focused on infectious diseases, direct heat effects and other disciplinary-bounded phenomena and consequences, even though scientific advances have long called for more inter-disciplinary collaboration. View Full-Text
Keywords: citation analysis; civilization collapse; climate change; comprehensive review; conflict; existential risk; famine; global warming; global health; migration citation analysis; civilization collapse; climate change; comprehensive review; conflict; existential risk; famine; global warming; global health; migration
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Butler, C.D. Climate Change, Health and Existential Risks to Civilization: A Comprehensive Review (1989–2013). Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 2266.

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