We strongly recommend this article in the BMJ by Andy Haines, professor of public health and primary care and Carlos Dora, co-ordinator in public health at WHO. For those speaking on the topic it has a list of key references.
How the low carbon economy can improve health
by Andy Haines, professor of public health and primary care & Carlos Dora, co-ordinator
The current global economy has generated enormous wealth but simultaneously created profound, and in many cases growing, inequalities. Furthermore, the global economy is based on unsustainable foundations, not only because of a dysfunctional global financial system but also because human activities are undermining the planetary life support systems that sustain human health and development.
It has been proposed that there are nine planetary boundaries to the biophysical subsystems that provide the conditions for human civilisation to flourish: climate change, rate of biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, stratospheric ozone depletion, interference with nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, global freshwater use, changes in land use, chemical pollution, and atmospheric aerosol loading. If disrupted beyond certain limits these processes could cause unacceptable environmental damage.
For some of these boundaries there is evidence of a threshold level that if exceeded could lead to non-linear, abrupt changes, with adverse, and in some cases potentially catastrophic, consequences for humanity. Thresholds have probably already been exceeded in three of these interlinked processes: climate change, rate of biodiversity loss, and the nitrogen cycle. For some others the boundaries are being approached and without decisive action they are likely to be exceeded in the foreseeable future. Despite scientific uncertainties it is clear that humanity can only flourish within finite ecological limits.
The article goes on to discuss:
• Health benefits from low carbon electricity generation
• Indoor air pollution
• Agriculture and nutrition
• Why health should be taken into account in climate change mitigation strategies
It continues online via BMJ. You can read it here.