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Global warming: a formidable challenge to health

Global warming is a real concern to health experts, according to a senior scientist in this week's BMJ. His comments come as global warming gets the Hollywood treatment in the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow.

Global warming means not just a gradual climb in temperature, but also an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, and storms, says Professor Jonathan Patz of Johns Hopkins University.

Extreme weather events have claimed millions of lives during the past 20 years. Between 1972 and 1996, an average of 123,000 people were killed annually by natural disasters, most of them in Africa and Asia.

Growing evidence suggests that climate change will increase malnutrition and outbreaks of infectious diseases in the 21st century.

Although the doomsday scenarios in the film may be far from reality, the slower march of climate change still presents a formidable challenge for the health sector and society as a whole, writes the author.

The many health effects posed by climate change will arrive through numerous convoluted pathways and will require interdisciplinary analyses and integrated prevention planning, he concludes.


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Contact: Emma Dickinson
edickinson@bmj.com
44-20-7383-6529
BMJ-British Medical Journal
27-May-2004


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