Rising concern on human health implications of climate change
There is increasing attention to the interlinked nature of climate change and health, including the impact of climate change on reduction in air quality, creating conditions for increased disease transmission and negatively impacting mental health.
Changes we are seeing
The impacts of climate change on human health are becoming clearer, including impacts on air quality and mental health.
- Ozone and particulate matter pollution is changing due to rising temperatures.
- Some estimates suggest an increase of around 60 premature deaths/year in Sydney for just the decade 2051–2060 as a result of worsening air quality as a direct function of climate change1.
- Heat related deaths are predicted to double on average across major Australian cities from 2020–20502.
- The World Health Organisation has called for mental health support to be included in climate change responses as mental health, anxiety and suicide rates increase.
Changing ecosystem conditions alongside human settlement patterns are creating increased risk of disease.
- Over the next 50 years, the world could see more than 15,000 new cases of mammals transmitting viruses to other mammals3.
- Warmer temperatures and higher rainfall create favourable environments for harmful algae growth and changing mosquito breeding environments and this is increasing risks of water contamination and change aquatic environments
Technological innovation is improving our measurement, understanding and response to localised climate change impacts.
- Technological improvements are accelerating understanding and driving possible solutions including urban heat mapping, digital twins, climate predictor technologies and personalised smart-tech sensors.
- Improvements in low-carbon futures in our cities are likely to also help reduce exposure to hydrocarbons and fine particles.