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Tony McMichael Emeritus Professor (Population Health) National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health The Australian National University

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Presentation on theme: "Tony McMichael Emeritus Professor (Population Health) National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health The Australian National University"— Presentation transcript:

1 Tony McMichael Emeritus Professor (Population Health) National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health The Australian National University Human Health: Bottom-Line Integrator of the Population, Resources and Climate Change Nexus 2013 Fenner Conference Australian Academy of Science October 2013

2 Climate Change: Health Impact Pathways Direct impacts via extreme weather events, heat-waves, worsened air pollution Influences on social, infra-structural and economic conditions Health Impacts Injury/death; mental stress Heat stress, deaths Infectious diseases Under-nutrition Mental stress/disorders Trauma/deaths Property damage; lower productivity; jobs; displacement; resource-related conflict and warfare Influences on natural biophysical systems Influences on biological and ecological processes Ecological changes: food yields, water quality, mosquito populations, etc. Climate Change Glaciers; river flows; ocean temperature, pH, currents; sea-level rise; nitrogen & phosphorus cycles. Soil health; forests; coastal zones; biodiversity; etc McMichael AJ, 2013 Indirect impacts: system-mediated

3 Climate Change Influences on Health in Australia Already apparent: prior risks amplified by climate change Uptrend in av annual no. of heat-days deaths, hospitalisations Increase in no./severity bushfires injury/death, resp. hazard, mental health Current probable health impacts: but not clearly identified/identifiable Rise in food-borne diarrhoeal disease Altered air quality: ozone formation, aeroallergens Mental health impacts, particularly in some (drying) rural regions Predicted future health impacts Extreme weather events: injuries, deaths, inf. disease, depression Water shortages: food yields, hygiene, recreation Mosquito-borne infections: Dengue, Ross River virus, Barmah Forest virus, Japanese encephalitis, chikungunya (?), etc. Thermal stress in outdoor workers: behaviours, injuries, organ damage; output Physical and behaviour-based health impacts in affected rural communities

4 Heatwaves, Illness Events and Mortality Melbourne, Australia, 2009 SOURCE: January 2009 Heatwave in Victoria: an Assessment of Health Impacts. State of Victoria 2009 Maximum Temperature Heat Stress Heat Stroke Dehydration Jan: Feb Date Temp o C Jan 29-30: 60% increase in ambulance call-outs 126 out-of-hospital deaths (vs. 44 expected deaths) Number of ambulance attendances Ambulance attendances for heat-related illnesses in Metropolitan Melbourne: 19 Jan – 1 Feb, January 2009: maximum temperatures 12-15°C above summer norm 45°C

5 Winter deaths Summer deaths Ratio, Summer:Winter Bennett CM, Dear KBG, McMichael AJ 2013

6 NCEPH/CSIRO/BoM/UnivOtago, 2003 Dengue Fever: Estimated habitable zone for Ae. aegypti mosquito vector, under alternative CSIRO climate-change scenarios for 2050 Risk region for medium emissions scenario, 2050 Darwin Katherine Cairns Mackay Rockhampton Townsville Port Hedland Broome Carnarvon. Darwin Katherine Cairns Mackay Rockhampton Townsville Port Hedland Broome Brisbane. Current risk region for dengue transmission Darwin Katherine Cairns Mackay Rockhampton Townsville Port Hedland Broome Carnarvon. Risk region for high emissions scenario, 2050 ~ o C ~ o C

7 432,000 mt 2050 A A2 Source of maps: P. Lehodey 1,727,000 m tonnes/yr Skipjack tuna Loukos H., Monfray P., Bopp L., Lehodey P. (2003) Potential changes in skipjack tuna habitat from a global warming scenario: modeling approach and preliminary results. Fisheries Oceanography, 12(4): USA Russia Aust 2050 A A2 c. 2000

8 Recent uptrend in adverse health impacts from cyclones, storms, wild-fires, flooding Increasing annual deaths from heat-waves in several countries Shifts in range and seasonality of some climate- sensitive infectious diseases (and their vectors) Contribution to declines in food yields in some regions: risk of malnutrition-related child development Adverse mental health consequences in various rural communities affected by drying Health Impacts, Worldwide, Attributable to Climate Change

9 Australias Big Methane (burp) Emitters Ruminant mammals have fore-stomachs to pre-digest cellulose in grasses and other plants. That generates enteric methane – a potent greenhouse gas – in large volume. The rising demand for beef in developing countries puts further pressure on the climate system.

10 Relationship between late-spring normalised (soil) water balance (a function of temperature and rainfall) and barley yields in the Czech Republic during the past century.

11 Autoimmune disorders, and ricketts in children Skin and eye damage, and skin cancers Level of exposure to solar UVR Low Health risks High % increase in daily mortality New York Maximum daily temperature o C


13 Carrying Capacity


15 ChichénItzá Copan GUATEMALA BELIZE YUCATAN MAYA LOWLANDS (less rain, more groundwater) MEXICO EL SALVADOR HONDURAS MAYA HIGHLANDS ( more rain, less groundwater) Coba Palenque 20 o N 18 o N 16 o N 14 o N Uxmal N PETÉN AREA Caracol ElMirador Tikal USA S America Chichén Itzá

16 Orange graph = coastal sediment: Titanium concentration in subannual micro-layers Blue graph = cave (Belize) speleothem (stalagmite: U/Th-ratio dating; Oxygen isotope) Adapted from: Kennett et al. Science 338, 2012 Classic Maya Decline and Collapse, CE Great Drought: SW USA, Central America, S Peru Cariaco Basin, Caribbean Coastline Titanium Classic Maya Civilization: Two High-Resolution Reconstructions of Rainfall Cave stalag- mite, Belize O 16 :O 18

17 Daisy Napaltjarri Jugadai Muruntji This painting depicts the artists home country around Muruntji, well known for its abundant bush tucker and wild flowers. Acrylic on canvas.

18 Estimated global temperature (EPICA) Australia: Estimated relative dryland population, based on 908 wide-spread archaeological sites Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), in Australia Holocene Years Before Present New ENSO Cycle, evident from around 4K BP Late Pleistocene Smith MA, et al. Human-environment interactions in Australian Drylands … The Holocene 2008

19 908 archaeological sites Years Before Present Sandy desert in Australian arid zone: Simpson Desert. Photo, May 2006, by MA Smith Intensity of El Niño Events Terminal phase of Pleistocene Williams A, et al. Revista de Antropologia Chilena 2008 Impact of El Niño events in Australian arid zone, based on archaeological records 5,000 Onset of current ENSO cycle Holocene 15,000

20 Persian Gulf Map of Ancient Mesopotamia 200 km URUK Euphrates River Tigris River



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