Journal Article Annotations
2022, 4th Quarter
Annotations by Mary G. Burke, MD
This is the year’s closing assessment by a large, interdisciplinary group of academics on how delays in moving away from fossil fuels is imperiling human health globally, through multiple pathways. It recognizes the impact of the COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine as further weakening a robust global response. It reiterates multiple other reports from distinguished publications that the number one threat to human health is climate change, and we ignore it at a large health cost.
Strengths and Weaknesses:
There is scrupulous review of the major drivers of health effects of climate change: heat, extreme events (weather, fire etc.), drought, infectious disease, food insecurity. It has a full panel on mental health effects. The report recognizes how lack of research, stigma, and lack of awareness reduce our understanding of the ubiquitous downstream effects of climate change. In a particularly interesting Section 2, “Adaptation, planning and resilience for health,” the report also outlines strategies and areas of hopefulness.
As clinicians and advocates for our patients, we all need to be aware of both the obvious as well as silent ways climate and environmental change are impacting our patients. The report notes how—including health systems—can mitigate their own carbon footprint including through use of renewable energy and transportation systems less reliant on fossil fuels.