After a hot, smoky summer that made the health hazards posed by climate change painfully clear, we concluded that it was time to provide an updated selection of books and reports on climate change, medicine, and public health. (Earlier lists were published in 2019 and 2017.)
This new selection begins with three global overviews, two of which are available as free downloads.
The next three titles are more tightly focused on the health challenges climate change poses both for our children and older adults and on how support networks and organizations, particularly for marginalized groups, can help communities meet these challenges.
More specialized still are the three reports that follow — on the “ethical challenges in global public health,” on “health at the mercy of fossil fuels,” and on the intimate connections between human and animal health in a climate-changed world.
The last three titles examine how the health care industry itself must change by adopting better business practices, decarbonizing its infrastructure and supply chains, and reforming curricula in medical schools.
As always, the descriptions of the titles are adapted from promotional copy provided by the organizations or publishers that released them.
Global Climate Change and Human Health: From Science to Practice 2E, edited by J. Lemery, K. Knowlton, and C. Sorensen (Jossey-Bass 2021, 672 pages, $89.95)
The Second Edition of Global Climate Change and Human Health delivers an accessible and comprehensive exploration of the rapidly accelerating and increasingly ubiquitous effects of climate change and global warming on human health and disease. The distinguished authors discuss the health impacts of the economic, climatological, and geopolitical effects of global warming, including the effect of extreme weather events on public health and the effects of changing meteorological conditions on human health. Perfect for students of public health, medicine, nursing, and pharmacy, Global Climate Change and Human Health 2E is an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in the intersection of climate and human health and disease.
Health in the Climate Emergency: A Global Perspective by the Project Team (Inter-Academy Partnership 2022, 141 pages, free download available here)
Climate change is having a range of impacts on health today that will become more severe unless urgent action is taken. Vulnerable populations will see their health increasingly undermined by both direct impacts, such as from extreme heat, and indirect ones, e.g. from less food and nutrition security. To produce science-based analysis and recommendations on a global scale, outstanding scientists from around the world – brought together under the umbrella of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) – have teamed up to collect and evaluate relevant evidence. The three-year project also examined a number of climate mitigation and adaptation actions that could bring significant improvements to health and health equity.
Climate Change and the Health Sector: Healing the World, edited by A. Thomas et al (Routledge India 2021, 296 pages, $52.95 paperback, but a free download is available from the publisher)
This edited volume positions the health sector as a leader in the fight against climate change and explores the role of the health system in climate policy action. It traces the linkages between climate change and the health sector, with chapters on the impact of climate change on health, its connection to pandemics, and its effects on food, nutrition and air quality, while examining gendered and other vulnerabilities. Supplemented with rigorous case studies, the book will be useful for students, teachers, and researchers as well as healthcare workers, public health officials, policy planners and those interested in climate resilience and preparedness in the health sector.
See also the companion volume, The Politics of the Climate Change-Health Nexus (2023).
Children’s Health & the Peril of Climate Change by Frederica Perera (Oxford University Press 2022, 248 pages, $35.00)
Children’s Health and the Peril of Climate Change brings to light the mental and physical harms to children’s health inflicted by climate change and its root cause–our addiction to fossil fuel. Drawing on the author’s extensive expertise in children’s environmental health, this essential and thought-provoking text exposes the unique vulnerability of the developing child and the multiple and synergistic effects of climate change and air pollution on child health, especially for disadvantaged children. But the book also presents a roadmap to a brighter future with case studies of climate change and air pollution policies that have benefitted children’s health and the economy. Frederica Perera’s timely book is a call to action to replace denial and despair around climate change with purpose and commitment for a healthier, more sustainable future.
Climate Resilience for an Aging Nation by Danielle Arigoni (Island Press 2023, 236 pages, $30.00 paperback)
Our population is aging—by 2034, the US will have more people over 65 than under 18. Despite the evidence that climate change is severely impacting older adults, and the reality that communities will be confronted with more frequent and more severe disasters, we’re not prepared to address the needs of older adults and other vulnerable populations in the face of a changing climate. In Climate Resilience for an Aging Nation, Danielle Arigoni argues that we cannot achieve true resilience until communities adopt interventions that work to meet the needs of their oldest residents. Climate Resilience for an Aging Nation will help professionals and concerned citizens understand how to best plan for both the aging of our population and the climate changes underway so that we can create safer, more livable communities for all.
Climate Resilience: How We Keep Each Other Safe, Care for Our Communities, and Fight Back Against Climate Change by Kylie Flanagan (North Atlantic Books 2023, 256 pages, $19.95 paperback)
In Climate Resilience, climate justice and resilience strategist Kylie Flanagan invites us to see and act beyond beyond status-quo solutions, Big Tech promises, and everything we’ve been told about saving the planet. Centering the voices of Native Rights activists, queer liberation ecologists, youth climate-justice organizers, Latinx wilderness activists, and others on the front lines, Climate Resilience urges us toward a vision of climate care that invests in place-based, community-led projects. Each section offers practical blueprints for engaging with different aspects of climate-change action through mutual aid, community safety plans, and more. And each includes a range of ideas for readers to apply these strategies in their own communities.
Ethical Challenges in Global Public Health: Climate Change, Pollution, and the Health of the Poor, edited by P. J. Landrigan and A. Vicini SJ (Pickwick Publications 2021, 208 pages, $30.00 paperback, free download available from Journal of Moral Theology)
The Global Theological Ethics book series focuses on works that feature authors from around the world, draw on resources from the traditions of Catholic theological ethics, and attend to concrete issues facing the world today. It advances the Journal of Moral Theology’s mission of fostering scholarship deeply rooted in traditions of inquiry about the moral life, engaged with contemporary issues, and exploring the interface of Catholic moral theology philosophy, economics, political philosophy, psychology, and more. This volume relies on and joins diverse academic initiatives that aim at training citizens attentive to the ethical calls of global public health across the planet, citizens committed to promoting the common good, advancing justice, and caring for the Earth – our common home – in these troubled times.
The 2022 Report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change: Health at the Mercy of Fossil Fuels by M. Romanello et al (Lancet 2022, 36 pages, free download available here)
The 2022 report of the Lancet Countdown is published as the world confronts profound and concurrent systemic shocks. Countries and health systems continue to contend with the health, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a persistent fossil fuel overdependence has pushed the world into global energy and cost-of-living crises. As these crises unfold, the worsening impacts of climate change are increasingly affecting the foundations of human health and wellbeing, exacerbating the vulnerability of the world’s populations to concurrent health threats. As countries devise ways to recover from the coexisting crises, the evidence is unequivocal. Only an immediate, health-centered response can secure a future in which world populations can not only survive, but thrive.
Descriptions and links for three related Lancet Countdown reports can be found here.
Climate Change and Animal Health, edited by Craig Stephen and Colleen Duncan (CRC 2022, 334 pages, $59.95 paperback)
This benchmark publication assembles information on the current and anticipated effects of climate change on animal health. It empowers educators, practitioners, and researchers by providing evidence, experience, and opinions on what we need to do to prepare for the largest threat ever to have faced animals on this planet. With expert contributors from across the globe, the text equips the reader with the means to develop sustainable adaptation or mitigation actions. After introducing animal health in a climate change context, chapters look at specific animal health impacts arising from climate change. The book concludes with suggestions on teachable and actionable ideas that could be used to mobilize concepts provided into education or advocacy.
Driving Co-Benefits for Climate and Health, 2022 Update: How the Private Sector Can Accelerate Progress by Climate and Health Coalition (Forum for the Future 2022, 82 pages, free download available here)
In this 2022 report, the Climate and Health Coalition reviews progress, highlights some encouraging examples of integrated action on climate and health which deserve to be widely replicated, and details actions businesses can take to seize the initiative and make change happen. This guidance also illustrates opportunities to integrate equity of health outcomes into climate and health strategies and explores the intersection of biodiversity and nature with climate and health, with a focus on four sectors which have particular leverage: food, technology, the built environment and healthcare.
Decarbonizing Health Care: Clean Energy Policy Options by Joe Kruger (Georgetown Climate Center 2023, 37 pages, free download available here)
This report focuses on two types of energy policies that can help health care delivery organizations meet ambitious emissions targets: policies that reduce direct emissions at their facilities and policies that apply more broadly to the U.S. electric power and commercial buildings sectors. The health care sector contributes 8.5% of overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Federal, state, and local energy and climate policies – particularly, those in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – create an unprecedented new source of financing that will make it easier to invest in the up-front costs of measures that can help hospitals and other health care delivery organizations reduce their direct on-site emissions while lowering overall energy costs.
A Guide to Climate & Health Curriculum Reform in Medical Schools: 2022 Edition by Medical Students for a Sustainable Future (MS4SF 2022, 48 pages, free download available here)
Medical Students for a Sustainable Future is a non-partisan, national network of medical students who recognize climate change as an urgent threat to health and social justice. As health professionals, we must be prepared to prevent, diagnose, and manage the health consequences of climate change, as well as to face the unprecedented strain climate change will impose on our health system. We advocate for medical school curriculum reform to include the intersection of climate change, health, and health care delivery. This guide serves as a compilation of resources to help facilitate the integration of climate-health curriculum in medical schools. Links and samples are provided for curricular proposals, learning objectives and competencies, lesson plans, elective and seminar syllabi, patient educational materials, and personal online learning resources.