Climate change and human health: recognising the really inconvenient truth

Anthony J McMichael and Colin D Butler
Med J Aust 2009; 191 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb03342.x
Published online: 7 December 2009

Climate change is weakening Earth’s life-support systems

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (7–18 December) will soon be behind us. Climate change, however, continues to progress more rapidly and disruptively than climate scientists foreshadowed only 5 years ago. Recent peer-reviewed reports of climate change processes and impacts show, among other effects, an increased rate of greenhouse gas accumulation in the lower atmosphere, and an accelerating sea level rise. This has prompted a worrying reappraisal of where we might now be heading. Earlier this decade, there were hopes of limiting the global temperature increase to about 2°C. There is now growing scientific recognition that we need to prepare for an even more disrupted world with temperature rises of up to 3–4°C.1-3

  • Anthony J McMichael1
  • Colin D Butler2

  • National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT.



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