Climate Change and...

Annotated Bibliography

Effects of Climate Change

Human Health

J. A. Lowe, J. M. Gregory, R. A. Flather (2001). Changes in the occurrence of storm surges around the United Kingdom under a future climate scenario using a dynamic storm surge model driven by the Hadley Centre climate model. Climate Dynamics 18 (3-4): 179-188

ABSTRACT: A potential consequence of climate change is an alteration of the frequency of extreme coastal storm surge events. It is these extreme events which, from an impacts point of view, will be of more concern than the slow inundation of coastal areas by century scale changes in mean sea level. In this study, a 35 km resolution storm surge model of the North west European continental shelf region has been driven by winds and pressures from the Hadley Centre nested regional climate model. Simulations of both present day and future climate (the end of the twentyfirst century) have been performed. The results suggest that, in addition to the effect of rising mean sea level, at many locations around the United Kingdom coastline future changes in local meteorology will lead to further significant changes in the return periods of extreme storm surge events. At most sites, this meteorologically forced change represents a reduction in return period.

D. J. Rogers, S. E. Randolph (2000). The global spread of malaria in a future, warmer world. Science 289 (5485): 1763-1766

ABSTRACT: The frequent warnings that global climate change will allow falciparum malaria to spread into northern latitudes, including Europe and large parts of the United States, are based on biological transmission models driven principally by temperature. These models were assessed for their value in predicting present, and therefore future, malaria distribution. In an alternative statistical approach, the recorded present-day global distribution offalciparum malaria was used to establish the current multivariate climatic constraints. These results were applied to future climate scenarios to predict future distributions, which showed remarkably few changes, even under the most extreme scenarios.

R. Acuna-Soto, D. W. Stahle, M. K. Cleaveland, M.D. Therrell (2002). Megadrought and megadeath in 16th century Mexico. Emerging Infectious Diseases 8 (4): 360-362

ABSTRACT: The native population collapse in 16th century Mexico was a demographic catastrophe with one of the highest death rates in history. Recently developed tree-ring evidence has allowed the levels of precipitation to be reconstructed for north central Mexico, adding to the growing body of epidemiologic evidence and indicating that the 1545 and 1576 epidemics of cocoliztli (Nahuatl for "pest”) were indigenous hemorrhagic fevers transmitted by rodent hosts and aggravated by extreme drought conditions.

D J Gubler, P Reiter, K L Ebi, W Yap, R Nasci, J A Patz (2001). Climate variability and change in the United States: potential impacts on vector- and rodent-borne diseases. Environmental Health Prespectives 109 (Suppl 2): 223-233

ABSTRACT: Diseases such as plague, typhus, malaria, yellow fever, and dengue fever, transmitted between humans by blood-feeding arthropods, were once common in the United States. Many of these diseases are no longer present, mainly because of changes in land use, agricultural methods, residential patterns, human behavior, and vector control. However, diseases that may be transmitted to humans from wild birds or mammals (zoonoses) continue to circulate in nature in many parts of the country. Most vector-borne diseases exhibit a distinct seasonal pattern, which clearly suggests that they are weather sensitive. Rainfall, temperature, and other weather variables affect in many ways both the vectors and the pathogens they transmit. For example, high temperatures can increase or reduce survival rate, depending on the vector, its behavior, ecology, and many other factors. Thus, the probability of transmission may or may not be increased by higher temperatures. The tremendous growth in international travel increases the risk of importation of vector-borne diseases, some of which can be transmitted locally under suitable circumstances at the right time of the year. But demographic and sociologic factors also play a critical role in determining disease incidence, and it is unlikely that these diseases will cause major epidemics in the United States if the public health infrastructure is maintained and improved.

Khasnis, A.A., Nettleman, M. D. (2005). Global warming and infectious disease. Archives of Medical Research 36 (6): 689-696

ABSTRACT: Global warming has serious implications for all aspects of human life, including infectious diseases. The effect of global warming depends on the complex interaction between the human host population and the causative infectious agent. From the human standpoint, changes in the environment may trigger human migration, causing disease patterns to shift. Crop failures and famine may reduce host resistance to infections. Disease transmission may be enhanced through the scarcity and contamination of potable water sources. Importantly, significant economic and political stresses may damage the existing public health infrastructure, leaving mankind poorly prepared for unexpected epidemics. Global warming will certainly affect the abundance and distribution of disease vectors. Altitudes that are currently too cool to sustain vectors will become more conducive to them. Some vector populations may expand into new geographic areas, whereas others may disappear. Malaria, dengue, plague, and viruses causing encephalitic syndromes are among the many vector-borne diseases likely to be affected. Some models suggest that vector-borne diseases will become more common as the earth warms, although caution is needed in interpreting these predictions. Clearly, global warming will cause changes in the epidemiology of infectious diseases. The ability of mankind to react or adapt is dependent upon the magnitude and speed of the change. The outcome will also depend on our ability to recognize epidemics early, to contain them effectively, to provide appropriate treatment, and to commit resources to prevention and research.

W. J. M. Martens, T. H. Jetten, D. A. Focks (1997). Sensitivity of malaria, schistosomiasis and dengue to global warming. Climatic Change 35 (2): 145-156

ABSTRACT: Global assessment of the potential impacts of anthropogenically-induced climate change on vector-borne diseases suggests an increase in extent of the geographical areas susceptible to transmission of malarial Plasmodium parasites, dengue Flavivirus and Schistosoma worms. The transmission potential of the three associated vector-borne diseases studied is highly sensitive to climate changes on the periphery of the currently endemic areas and at higher altitudes within such areas. Our findings vis-à-vis the present endemic areas indicate that the increase in the epidemic potential of malaria and dengue transmission may be estimated at 12–27% and 31–47%, respectively, while in contrast, schistosomiasis transmission potential may be expected to exhibit a 11–17% decrease.

R. R. Colwell (1996). Global climate and infectious disease: The cholera paradigm. Science 274 (5295): 2025-2031

ABSTRACT: The origin of cholera has been elusive, even though scientific evidence clearly shows it is a waterborne disease. However, standard bacteriological procedures for isolation of the cholera vibrio from environmental samples, including water, between epidemics generally were unsuccessful.Vibrio cholerae , a marine vibrio, requiring salt for growth, enters into a dormant, viable but nonculturable stage when conditions are unfavorable for growth and reproduction. The association ofVibrio cholerae with plankton, notably copepods, provides further evidence for the environmental origin of cholera, as well as an explanation for the sporadic and erratic occurrence of cholera epidemics. On a global scale, cholera epidemics can now be related to climate and climatic events, such as El Niño, as well as the global distribution of the plankton host. Remote sensing, with the use of satellite imagery, offers the potential for predicting conditions conducive to cholera outbreaks or epidemics.

P. R. Epstein (2001). Climate change and emerging infectious diseases. Microbes and Infection 3 (9): 747-754

ABSTRACT: The ranges of infectious diseases and vectors are changing in altitude, along with shifts in plant communities and the retreat of alpine glaciers. Additionally, extreme weather events create conditions conducive to clusters of insect-, rodent- and water-borne diseases. Accelerating climate change carries profound threats for public health and society.

A. J McMichael, R. E Woodruff, S. Hales (2006). Climate change and human health: present and future risks. The Lancet 367 (9513): 859-869

ABSTRACT: There is near unanimous scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity will change Earth's climate. The recent (globally averaged) warming by 0·5°C is partly attributable to such anthropogenic emissions. Climate change will affect human health in many ways—mostly adversely. Here, we summarise the epidemiological evidence of how climate variations and trends affect various health outcomes. We assess the little evidence there is that recent global warming has already affected some health outcomes. We review the published estimates of future health effects of climate change over coming decades. Research so far has mostly focused on thermal stress, extreme weather events, and infectious diseases, with some attention to estimates of future regional food yields and hunger prevalence. An emerging broader approach addresses a wider spectrum of health risks due to the social, demographic, and economic disruptions of climate change. Evidence and anticipation of adverse health effects will strengthen the case for pre-emptive policies, and will also guide priorities for planned adaptive strategies.

S. Hales, N. de Wet, J. Maindonald, A. Woodward (2992). Potential effect of population and climate changes on global distribution of dengue fever: an empirical model. The Lancet 360 (9336): 830-834

SUMMARY: Background Existing theoretical models of the potential effects of climate change on vector-borne diseases do not account for social factors such as population increase, or interactions between climate variables. Our aim was to investigate the potential effects of global climate change on human health, and in particular, on the transmission of vector-borne diseases.

Methods We modelled the reported global distribution of dengue fever on the basis of vapour pressure, which is a measure of humidity. We assessed changes in the geographical limits of dengue fever transmission, and in the number of people at risk of dengue by incorporating future climate change and human population projections into our model.

Findings We showed that the current geographical limits of dengue fever transmission can be modelled with 89% accuracy on the basis of long-term average vapour pressure. In 1990, almost 30% of the world population, 1·5 billion people, lived in regions where the estimated risk of dengue transmission was greater than 50%. With population and climate change projections for 2085, we estimate that about 5–6 billion people (50–60% of the projected global population) would be at risk of dengue transmission, compared with 3·5 billion people, or 35% of the population, if climate change did not happen.

Interpretation We conclude that climate change is likely to increase the area of land with a climate suitable for dengue fever transmission, and that if no other contributing factors were to change, a large proportion of the human population would then be put at risk.

J. A. Patz, D. Campbell-Lendrum, T. Holloway, J. A. Foley (2005). Impact of regional climate change on human health. Nature 438 (17 November): 310-317

ABSTRACT: The World Health Organisation estimates that the warming and precipitation trends due to anthropogenic climate change of the past 30 years already claim over 150,000 lives annually. Many prevalent human diseases are linked to climate fluctuations, from cardiovascular mortality and respiratory illnesses due to heatwaves, to altered transmission of infectious diseases and malnutrition from crop failures. Uncertainty remains in attributing the expansion or resurgence of diseases to climate change, owing to lack of long-term, high-quality data sets as well as the large influence of socio-economic factors and changes in immunity and drug resistance. Here we review the growing evidence that climate–health relationships pose increasing health risks under future projections of climate change and that the warming trend over recent decades has already contributed to increased morbidity and mortality in many regions of the world. Potentially vulnerable regions include the temperate latitudes, which are projected to warm disproportionately, the regions around the Pacific and Indian oceans that are currently subjected to large rainfall variability due to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation sub-Saharan Africa and sprawling cities where the urban heat island effect could intensify extreme climatic events.

P. R. Epstein, H. F. Diaz, S. Elias, G. Grabherr, N. E. Graham, W. J. M. Martens, E. Mosley-Thompson, J. Susskind (1998). Biological and physical signs of climate change: focus on mosquito-borne diseases. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 79 (3): 409-417

ABSTRACT: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that there is “discernible evidence” that humans—through accelerating changes in multiple forcing factors—have begun to alter the earth's climate regime. Such conclusions are based primarily upon so-called “fingerprint” studies, namely the warming pattern in the midtroposphere in the Southern Hemisphere, the disproportionate rise in nighttime and winter temperatures, and the statistical increase in extreme weather events in many nations. All three aspects of climate change and climate variability have biological implications.

Detection of climate change has also drawn upon data from glacial records that indicate a general retreat of tropical summit glaciers. Here the authors examine biological (plant and insect) data, glacial findings, and temperature records taken at high-elevation, mountainous regions. It is concluded that, at high elevations, the overall trends regarding glaciers, plants, insect range, and shifting isotherms show remarkable internal consistency, and that there is consistency between model projections and the ongoing changes. There are implications for public health as well as for developing an interdisciplinary approach to the detection of climate change.

P.R. Epstein (2001). West Nile virus and the climate. Journal of Urban Health 78 (2): 367-371

ABSTRACT: West Nile virus is transmitted by urban-dwelling mosquitoes to birds and other animals, with occasional “spillover” to humans. While the means by which West Nile virus was introduced into the Americas in 1999 remain unknown, the climatic conditions that amplify diseases that cycle among urban mosquitoes, birds, and humans are warm winters and spring droughts. This information can be useful in generating early warning systems and mobilizing timely and the most environmentally friendly public health interventions. The extreme weather conditions accompanying long-term climate change may also be contributing to the spread of West Nile virus in the United States and Europe.

L. Berrang-Ford, J. D. MacLean, Theresa W. Gyorkos, J. D. Ford, N. H. Ogden (2009). Climate change and malaria in Canada: a systems approach. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Infectious Diseases 2009 (Article ID 385487): 13 p.

ABSTRACT: This article examines the potential for changes in imported and autochthonous malaria incidence in Canada as a consequence of climate change. Drawing on a systems framework, we qualitatively characterize and assess the potential direct and indirect impact of climate change on malaria in Canada within the context of other concurrent ecological and social trends. Competent malaria vectors currently exist in southern Canada, including within this range several major urban centres, and conditions here have historically supported endemic malaria transmission. Climate change will increase the occurrence of temperature conditions suitable for malaria transmission in Canada, which, combined with trends in international travel, immigration, drug resistance, and inexperience in both clinical and laboratory diagnosis, may increase malaria incidence in Canada and permit sporadic autochthonous cases. This conclusion challenges the general assumption of negligible malaria risk in Canada with climate change.

R. Zell (2004). Global climate change and the emergence/re-emergence of infectious diseases. International Journal of Medical Microbiology Supplements 293 (Supplement 37): 16-26

ABSTRACT: Variation in the incidence of vector-borne diseases is associated with extreme weather events and annual changes in weather conditions. Moreover, it is assumed that global warming might lead to an increase of infectious disease outbreaks. While a number of reports link disease outbreaks to single weather events, the El Niño/Southern Oscillation and other largescale climate fluctuations, no report unequivocally associates vector-borne discases with increased temperature and the environmental changes expected to accompany it. The complexity of not yet fully understood pathogen transmission dynamics with numerous variables might be an explanation of the problems in assessing the risk factors.

R.T. Watson, A.J. McMichael (2001). Global climate change — the latest assessment: does global warming warrant a health warning?. Global Change & Human Health 2 (1): 64-75

ABSTRACT: Global climate change is a qualitatively distinct, and very significant, addition to the spectrum of environmental health hazards encountered by humankind. Historically, environmental health concerns have focused on toxicological or microbiological risks to health from local exposures. However, the scale of environmental health hazards is today increasing; indeed, the burgeoning human impact on the environment has begun to alter global biophysical systems (such as the climate system). As a consequence, a range of larger-scale environmental hazards to human population health has emerged. This includes the health risks posed by climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, loss of biodiversity, stresses on terrestrial and ocean food-producing systems, changes in hydrological systems and the supplies of freshwater, and the global spread of persistent organic pollutants. Appreciation of this scale and type of influence on human health entails an ecological perspective — a perspective that recognises that the foundations of long-term good health in populations reside in the continued stability and functioning of the biosphere's "life-supporting" ecological and physical systems.

J. J. West, A. M. Fiore, L. W. Horowitz, D. L. Mauzerall (2006). Global health benefits of mitigating ozone pollution with methane emission controls. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (11): 3988-3993

ABSTRACT: Methane (CH4 ) contributes to the growing global background concentration of tropospheric ozone (O3 ), an air pollutant associated with premature mortality. Methane and ozone are also important greenhouse gases. Reducing methane emissions therefore decreases surface ozone everywhere while slowing climate warming, but although methane mitigation has been considered to address climate change, it has not for air quality. Here we show that global decreases in surface ozone concentrations, due to methane mitigation, result in substantial and widespread decreases in premature human mortality. Reducing global anthropogenic methane emissions by 20% beginning in 2010 would decrease the average daily maximum 8-h surface ozone by ≈1 part per billion by volume globally. By using epidemiologic ozone-mortality relationships, this ozone reduction is estimated to prevent ≈30,000 premature all-cause mortalities globally in 2030, and ≈370,000 between 2010 and 2030. If only cardiovascular and respiratory mortalities are considered, ≈17,000 global mortalities can be avoided in 2030. The marginal cost-effectiveness of this 20% methane reduction is estimated to be ≈$420,000 per avoided mortality. If avoided mortalities are valued at $1 million each, the benefit is ≈$240 per tonne of CH4 (≈$12 per tonne of CO2 equivalent), which exceeds the marginal cost of the methane reduction. These estimated air pollution ancillary benefits of climate-motivated methane emission reductions are comparable with those estimated previously for CO2 . Methane mitigation offers a unique opportunity to improve air quality globally and can be a cost-effective component of international ozone management, bringing multiple benefits for air quality, public health, agriculture, climate, and energy.

Snäll, T., Benestad, R. E., Stenseth, N. C. (2009). Expected future plague levels in a wildlife host under different scenarios of climate change. Global Change Biology 15 (2): 500-507

ABSTRACT: We predicted future plague and black-tailed prairie dog dynamics in the North American prairies under different scenarios of climate change. A climate-driven model for the joint dynamic of the host–parasite system was used. Projections for the regional climate were obtained through empirical–statistical downscaling of global climate scenarios generated by an ensemble of global climate models for the recent Fourth Assessment Report by the IPCC. The study shows the uncertainties involved in predicting future regional climate and climate-driven population dynamics, but reveals that unchanged or lower levels of plague, leading to increased black-tailed prairie dog colonies, can be expected. Less plague is particularly expected for scenarios that assume the highest emission of greenhouse gases associated with the greatest projected future warming. Moreover, under high-emission scenarios, decreased probabilities of extremely high numbers of infected colonies are expected, along with decreased probabilities of extremely low total numbers of colonies. The assumed main underlying mechanism is an inhibiting effect of high temperatures on fleas (dispersal vector) and on flea-mediated transmission of the disease-causing bacterium. Our study highlights the importance of using dynamic ecological (here host–parasite) models together with ensembles of climate projections to investigate the responses of populations and parasites to a changed climate.

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