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J Korean Med Assoc > Volume 54(2); 2011 > Article
Journal of the Korean Medical Association 2011;54(2):149-155.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5124/jkma.2011.54.2.149   
Climate change and human health
Soo Jong Hong, Ju Hee Seo
Department of Pediatrics, Childhood Asthma Atopy Center, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. sjhong@amc.seoul.kr
Climactic changes, especially global warming, are potentially the largest global threat to human health and the source of the greatest number of cases of disease. If current emissions and land use trends continue unchecked, future generations will face more serious conditions, including injury, disease, and death related to natural disasters and heat waves, higher rates of climate-related infections, widespread malnutrition, and more allergy and air pollutionrelated morbidity and mortality. This review highlights the relationship between global climate changes and human health and provides some suggestions for improvement. According to the Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in 2007, global warming is caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The most important GHG is carbon dioxide (CO2), which is released by the burning of fossil fuels and, to a lesser extent, by land use practices, followed by nitrous oxide and methane. IPCC predicts that global temperatures will rise 1.8degrees C-4.0degrees C by 2099. According to the report, we can expect a significant rise in sea levels, massive species extinctions, changes in storm and drought cycles, altered ocean circulation, and redistribution of vegetation after crossing the "tipping point" of global warming. Human health will be adversely affected by the accelerating climate change. This review stimulates health care providers to provide quality care to susceptible individuals confronting new threats from climactic changes, as well as to work toward a mitigation of the drivers of climate change at the individual, community, and policy levels as part of a long-term commitment to protecting public health.
Key Words: Climate change, Global warming, Health, Greenhouse gas, Protection


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