Healthy Hospitals, Healthy Planet, Healthy People: Addressing Climate Change in Health Care Settings (pdf)
HCWH's co-founder Gary Cohen is a recipient of the prestigious Skoll Award. This video, chronicling the evolution of HCWH's work, premiered at the 2009 Skoll World Forum. enlarge video
Many measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will have surprising health co-benefits. This is above and beyond the benefits to come from reducing climate change itself. enlarge video
Climate Change and Human Health
One of the most disturbing implications of climate change is its potentially devastating impact on human health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported: "A warmer and more variable climate threatens to lead to higher levels of some air pollutants, increase transmission of diseases through unclean water and through contaminated food, to compromise agricultural production in some of the least developed countries, and increase the hazards of extreme weather."
WHO predicts that temperature shifts will encourage the spread of infectious diseases: Many of the major killers are highly climate sensitive as regards to temperature and rainfall, including cholera, and the diarrhoeal diseases, as well as diseases including malaria, dengue, and other infections carried by vectors. In sum, climate change threatens to slow, halt or reverse the progress that the global public health community is now making against many of these diseases. Moreover, an increase in extreme weather events like floods and droughts will have a dramatic impact on health, especially of people living in coastal and small island communities.
While everyone on earth will be touched by climate change, WHO makes it clear that the effects will be more calamitous for some that for others. The organization says that "health impacts will be disproportionately greater in vulnerable populations", including the very young, the elderly and the medically infirm.
The health sector can play a key role in helping societies adapt to the effects of climate change and the risk it poses to human health. Among other adaptation measures, WHO has called for strengthening public health systems, emergency response programmes, and research around the globe.
The health sector can also play an essential part in mitigating the effects of global climate change by taking steps to limit its own significant climate footprint.
- Climate Change and Human Health: Present and Future Risks (pdf)
- Best Environmental Practices in the Healthcare Sector (pdf) - A Guide to improve the healthcare sector environmental performance
- Energy Star program for Health Care
website of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Healthy Hospitals, Healthy Planet, Healthy People: Addressing Climate Change in Health Care Settings (pdf)
Aims at addressing the climate footprint of the health sector
- IPCC Fourth Assessment Report
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
- Saving Carbon, Improving Health: NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy for England (pdf)
- Solar clinics in Tanzania (website of Solar Electric Light Fund)
- Stop Trashing the Climate
GAIA Report on Waste and Climate
- World Health Organization website for information about Climate Change and Human Health
Pendo Maro, Senior Climate and Energy Advisor, Health Care Without Harm, and Michael Wilks, board member of HCWH Europe, talk about how investment in reducing greenhouse gases produces immediate and lasting benefits to health. enlarge video