Jonathan A Patz discusses the abrupt and long term health impacts of global warming
The doomsday film thriller The Day After Tomorrow is based on global warming theory, whereby the infusion of freshwater into the north Atlantic from the melting of Greenland's glaciers stops the circulation of water via the Gulf Stream. Although the probability of this event is low, according to climatologists, the scenario of abrupt climate change has certainly caught Hollywood's imagination.
Not surprisingly, the prospect of extreme weather events also has caught the real concern of health experts (not just their imaginations), after last year's devastating heat wave, as a result of which an estimated 15 000 people in France died in a matter of a weeks. The extent to which the severity of the European heat wave falls far outside the current distribution of weather is consistent with expectations of future climate change scenarios.1 Climatologists have long remarked that global warming will not simply manifest itself by a gradual climb