Climate change, health, and the NHS
- By: Isobel Braithwaite
I became interested in the links between climate change and health when I received an email publicising a student led pilot project on climate, health, and sustainable healthcare. Although I didn’t know much about it, it piqued my interest, and I thought it was worth applying. Over subsequent months I learnt things that were fascinating and worrying in equal measure.
The effects of climate change on health have the potential to be dramatic.1 We tend to think of obvious ones: heatwaves, changing patterns of infectious disease, and natural disasters, but my view is that climate change will affect health more through indirect pathways that are difficult to attribute to it. Science predicts a temperature rise of 4°C or more this century if current trends continue. Alongside population growth, resource scarcity, and rapid urbanisation, such a rise would contribute to economic instability, ecosystem collapse, migration on a large scale, and conflict.