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Climate Change, Biodiversity and Human Health

13. Climate change, biodiversity
and human health
1. Introduction
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of
our time. It is now widely recognized that climate
change and biodiversity loss¹ are interconnected,
and that both are increasingly influenced by
human activity (IPCC 2014; Pereira et al. 2010;
Campbell et al. 2009; Bellard et al. 2012; Parmesan
et al. 2011; Rockström et al. 2009; Beaumont et al.
2011; CBD 2009, 2003). he recently released Fifth
Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) supports previous
findings that climatic change will probably be
perilously aggravated unless robust climate
adaptation and mitigation measures are adopted.²
Tot al g ree nho use gas ( GHG ) emi ssions ³ resulting
from anthropogenic activity have risen more
rapidly between 2000 to 2010 than in any other
period in human history (IPCC 2014b), and the
potential impacts of anthropogenic activity on
biodiversity under business-as-usual scenarios
are but another reminder of the critical need for
action (CBD 2010; 2014). he impacts of climate
change will be amplified as it interacts with a
range of other drivers; a warming climate not
only threatens the stability and functioning of our
planet’s biological and physical systems but also
poses direct and indirect threats to global public
health, with more pronounced impacts on the
world’s most vulnerable populations (McMichael
et al. 2006, 2012; Parmesan and Martens 2009;
Haines et al. 2006).
¹ he Fifth Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD highlighted the risks of climate change, in particular, to coral reefs
(decision V/3) and to forest ecosystems (decision V/4), and drew attention to the serious impacts of biodiversity loss on
these systems and their associated livelihoods. he cross-cutting issue on biodiversity and climate change was included in
the work under the Convention in 2004 through decision VII/15 of the COP. Among other subsequent COP decisions on
climate change, at its tenth meeting the COP in decision X/20 para 17b requested the executive Secretary to explore avenues
for bridging the gaps between work being carried out to address the impacts of climate change on public health and work
to address the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.
² hese reports of the working groups and the synthesis report of AR5 are available at
³ Based on the most recent IPCC estimates, the greatest contributors of greenhouse gases are: CO
2 (76%); CH4 (about 16%),
N2O (about 6%) and the combined F-gases contribute about 2% (IPCC 2014a).
From 2000 to 2010, GHG emissions grew on average 2.2% per year compared to 1.3% per year over the entire period from
1970 to 2000. Moreover, although more recent data are not available for all gases, “initial evidence suggests that growth in
global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion has continued with emissions increasing by about 3% between 2010 and
2011 and by about 1–2% between 2011 and 2012” (IPCC 2014b). By sector, the largest sources of GHG emissions came
from energy production, agriculture, forestry and land use (AFOLU), and industry (IPCC 2014a).
222 Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
C. Romanelli, A.G. Capon, M. Maiero, D. Campbell-Lendrum, C. Butler, C. Corvalan, R. Issa, R.
McFarlane, C. Tirado von der Pahlen (Chapter authors)
he chapters in this volume have drawn attention
to a number of risks posed to human societies
by the degradation of the earth’s ecological and
climatic systems, including threats to water
and food security, air quality, the availability of
natural resources used for medicinal, spiritual or
recreational purposes and livelihoods, population
displacement, conflict and disasters, and potential
influences on patterns of disease. hese burdens,
however, are not evenly distributed. he greatest
impacts often fall upon the most vulnerable
populations, including women, children and
poverty-stricken communities who are often
least directly responsible for global environmental
change, yet particularly vulnerable to the risks
posed by multiple environmental stresses
(Türkeş 2014). hey are also, most frequently,
the least able to assess and address these risks.
Vulnerable communities face a double challenge:
the combined effects of climate change and
biodiversity loss undermine the partial progress
made to achieve the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs), which in turn further weakens
not only ecosystem integrity but also country or
community ability to respond to these risks.
1.1 Impacts of climate change on
human health
hough anthropogenic climate change has been
scientifically recognized since the nineteenth
century, real interest in the topic began in 1957,
during the International Geophysical year, with
the prophetic remark that “human beings are now
carrying out a large-scale geophysical experiment
of a kind which could not have happened in the
past nor be reproduced in the future”(Callendar
1958). By the time of the establishment of the
IPCC by the World Meteorological Organization
(WMO) and the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP) in 1988, this was clearly
understood, as the IPCC was called on to assess
“the scientific, technical and socioeconomic
information relevant for the understanding of the
risk of human-induced climate change.”
In the health literature, recognition of links
between public health and climate change is
now over a quarter century old, with pioneering
papers in 1989 published in the world’s two
leading English-language medical journals the
Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine
(Anonymous 1989; Leaf 1989). In the latter,
Alexander Leaf stated that the “United States,
with more than 19,000 km of coastline, will not
be spared. For example, much of Florida sits
on porous limestone. Miami has such a porous
aquifer that a protective dike against rising sea
levels would have to start more than 45 m (150
ft) beneath the surface to prevent salt water
from welling up behind it. Displaced people and
less arable land would compound the problem
of feeding the world’s increasing population.”
He added: “Probably the most widespread and
devastating consequences of global environmental
changes are likely to result from their eects on
agriculture and food supplies for the world’s
burgeoning population” (Leaf 1989).
Health awareness and expertise on the subject of
climate change and health was too young for the
topic to be explicitly included in the first IPCC
report (1990). his was corrected in the second
report, shortly followed by publication of the
first edited book on climate change and health
(McMichael et al. 1996; see also McMichael et al.
2003). he World Health Organization (WHO)
which published the books continues to play
a leading role in developing the topic. Today,
the issue of climate change and health attracts
widespread interest from the public health sector
and is increasingly prominent in the international
scientific literature. Increased attention by the
scientific community has been accompanied by
growing awareness of the issues among broader
public and civil society. Some analysts have
expressed the hope that a general awakening by
the public to the health risks of climate change will
accelerate the nascent “sustainability transition”
needed to ensure the survival of civilization
hat same year, the World Health Organization (WHO) set up a task group on the subject and in 1990 published a report
on the “potential health eects of climate change”. Available at
An article published in the Lancet that same year raised the additional possibility of conict associated with climate change
(Anonymous 1989).
223Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
(McMichael et al. 2000), even beyond that of
commensurate awareness in other disciplines.
he myriad health eects of climate change can
be categorized into three broad categories (Butler
2014a): direct, indirect and tertiary. While it is
dicult to catalogue all the impacts of climate
change on human health, Box 1 summarizes a
threefold approach that can help us conceive
primary, secondary and tertiary impacts that
aect the biodiversity–health nexus.
Several plausible reasons have been put forth to explain their lack of prominence – the most likely being the interdisciplinary
nature of these issues in the context of a scientific community that is still poorly equipped to equitably hear, consolidate
and incorporate numerous competing interests, including those of social scientists (Castree et al. 2014; Heller and Zavaleta
2009). hus, recent scientific culture has been reluctant to venture beyond a fairly narrow band of thinking, eectively
tabooing integrative cross-sectoral analysis and written reflection on challenges such as dierences in economic, political,
cultural and other forms of power, population growth, the “right” to unbridled consumption and limits to growth and
corresponding impacts on health, biodiversity and life-sustaining ecosystem services.
Direct health impacts are those that are directly, causally attributable to climate change and/or
climate variability, such as cardiovascular risk associated with heat waves, or risk of injury associated
with more intense and frequent storms. The recent ƥndings of Working Group III of the IPCC have
indicated, with a high degree of conƥdence, that the impacts of recent climate-related extremes,
including heat waves, droughts, Ʀoods, cyclones and wildƥres, have already led to vulnerability
and exposure of some ecosystems and several human systems to current climate variability. Such
extreme weather events impact vulnerable groups such as the poor and elderly the most, though the
adverse eƤects on human health can be ameliorated to a certain extent by social and technological
mediators, such as improved urban design and building standards (e.g. Santamouris 2013; Brown and
Southworth 2004; Birkman et al. 2010).
Despite scientiƥc argument over whether the witnessed increase in heat waves, ƥres and adverse
crop yields in Eurasia in 2010 were random or had been exacerbated by anthropogenic climate
change, the event still directly contributed to 50 000 excess deaths (Barriopedro et al. 2011). The
subsequent rise in global grain prices further indirectly impacted human health and food security
among vulnerable populations worldwide ()ohnstone and Mazo 2011). As such, the eƤects of climate
change on water, food security and extreme climatic events are likely to have profound direct impacts
on global public health (Costello et al. 2009). Heat-wave induced mortality of food source species,
ecological keystone species, and disease vectors and reservoirs are other examples of primary eƤects.
Indirect health impacts arise as downstream eƤects of climate change and variability. These impacts
are broad and variable in their etiology, such as change in infectious disease vector distribution and
air pollution interacting with heat waves.
The changing ecology of disease-bearing vectors was raised by Leaf in 1989, though the health impacts
of climate change on vector-borne diseases has been contested by some ecologists (e.g. LaƤerty
2009) and experts from within the disease community (e.g. Gething et al. 2010; Randolph 2009). The
debate is ƥnally showing signs of abatement for some of the most prevalent vector-borne diseases,
including malaria. Consensus is emerging that, indeed, climate change does magnify such risks (Siraj et
Box 1. Direct, indirect and tertiary impacts of climate change on human health
224 Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
Many authors in this volume point to numerous
synergies (“co-benefits”) that could flow to both
human well-being and ecological “health” from a
more biosensitive approach to our relationship
with nature (Boyden 2004), such as the co-benefits
of cycling on both health and environment.
Awareness of these co-benefits may also accelerate
global social transformation (Haines et al. 2009;
Raskin et al. 2002). On the other hand, many
forms of inertia: social, institutional, technological
and perhaps, above all, climatological, slow and
impede the likelihood of a successful transition,
most notably an enormous countermovement,
funded and fuelled by vested interests profiting
from “environmental brinkmanship (Butler
2000). Delay is also worsened by the scientific
knowledge gaps of many economists and policy-
makers, who have been very slow to awaken to the
risks we face, and who are instead wedded to more
conservative or sectoral measures of progress, or
to the hope that technological innovation alone
will eventually solve the problem.
1.2 Vulnerability of biodiversity to
impacts of climate change
The earth’s biota was shaped by fluctuating
Pleistocene concentrations of atmospheric
carbon dioxide, temperature and precipitation;
it has undergone multiple evolutionary changes
and adopted natural adaptive strategies. Until
the advent of industrialization, changes in
climate occurred over an extended period of
time, in a landscape much less degraded and
fragmented than today, and with considerably
less – if any – pressure from anthropogenic
activity. Habitat fragmentation has confined
many species to relatively small areas within
their previous ranges, resulting in reduced genetic
variability (Parmesan and Matthews 2006) and
other changes to structure and composition (CBD
2009). Warming beyond the highest temperatures
reached during the Pleistocene will continue to
stress biodiversity and ecosystems far beyond
the levels imposed by the climatic changes that
occurred in the evolutionary past (Templeton et
al. 1990; Parmesan 2006).
he impacts of climate change on biodiversity
operate at dierent levels (including microbial,
individual, population, species, community,
ecosystem and biome), with variable responses
at each level (Bellard et al. 2012; Parmesan
and Martens 2009). For example, increased
temperatures coupled with decreases in the
distribution of precipitation may reduce
freshwater levels in lakes and rivers (Campbell
et al. 2009). Warmer temperatures cause fish
al. 2014), though advances in technology, prevention and treatment can combine to reduce the burden
of diseases like malaria (Feachem et al. 2010). Climate change directly contributes to damage of both
infrastructure and human settlements, resulting in human mortality and morbidity that includes the
mental health and well-being of survivors (IPCC 2014d). In countries at all stages of development, these
impacts are consistent with a lack of preparedness for climatic variability in some sectors; the most
salient manifestations will be among the poorest and most vulnerable populations (IPCC, 2014d).
Tert i a ry
The third – “tertiary impacts” – category is, by a number of magnitudes, the most important health
risk associated with climate change (Butler 2014b). These include the health impacts of large-scale
famine, forced migration and human conƦict, which result from the geophysical and ecological
consequences of climate change, including the alteration of ecosystems, sea-level rise, and long-
term disruptions in water supply and food production. Surprisingly, with rare exceptions, this group
of eƤects has been little mentioned in the intervening decades, including in the most recent IPCC
reports released in 2014.ƺ These must be considered more holistically as we prepare to embark upon
new global commitments on climate change and a post-2015 Development Agenda.
225Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
populations to redistribute towards the poles, and
tropical oceans to become relatively less diverse
(CBD 2010). In other systems, drought may cause
some tree species to disappear and in turn also
fundamentally aect both vegetation structure
and species composition (February et al. 2007).
Models of future biome distributions in tropical
South America have found that substantial
shifts in the region may lead to the substitution
of Amazonian forest cover by savannah-like
vegetation (Salazar et al. 2007; Lapola et al.
2009). he interaction between climate change,
deforestation and fire can also lead to widespread
forest dieback, with some parts moving into a
self-perpetuating cycle of more frequent fires and
intense droughts. At the same time, more frequent
and powerful forest fires can compromise both the
productivity of forests and their ability to store
carbon (Barlow and Peres 2008; Bush et al. 2008).
hese combined impacts often lead to a reduction
in regional rainfall, compromising agricultural
production, livelihoods and food security (CBD
2010). Other models examining changes in natural
vegetation structure and function in response to
climate change predict that changes in vegetation
cover in the tropics, particularly in portions of
West and southern Africa and South America,
also include forest dieback (Alo and Wang 2008;
Barlow and Peres 2008). Continued warming
trends in oceans will accompany acidification as
a result of increased carbon emissions, resulting
in widespread degradation of tropical coral
reefs (Doney et al. 2009; Carpenter et al. 2008;
Hoegh-Guldberg et al. 2007; Orr et al. 2005), and
aecting the genetic and species diversity and
composition of marine species such as molluscs,
with corresponding impacts on our own sources
of food, medicines, recreation and transportation
(Bellard et al. 2012). Pollution is another pressure
interacting with climate change (Seinfeld and
Pandis 2012), and causing disruption to aquatic
(Schiedek et al. 2007), terrestrial (Cramer et al.
2001) and marine ecosystems (Harvey et al. 2006).
It is dicult to analytically separate the influence
of each of these drivers, as anthropogenic climate
change and its eects are intimately dependent on
interactions with other pressures such as land-use
change and attendant habitat loss, and changes in
water use, which themselves feed back into the
hydroclimatic cycle (Elmhagen et al. 2015). hese
interactions in turn influence the ability of natural
systems to respond at various spatial and temporal
scales (Campbell et al. 2009). Further research on
the complex interactions between these variables is
critical, and we must also consider the underlying
socioeconomic and other drivers of land-use change
at multiple scales (Elmhagen et al. 2015; Lambin
et al. 2001; Myers et al. 2013), and integrate input
from a larger number of disciplines.¹⁰
An abundant number of predictive scenarios
have shown no signs of abatement without the
implementation of additional measures, including
robust climate mitigation and adaptation
strategies (e.g. IPCC 2014; CBD 2014). Alarmingly,
some recent studies suggest that the impact of
climate change on biodiversity has been estimated
to have surpassed that attributed to land-use
change and habitat loss (Selwood et al. 2014). As
scientific research on individual drivers continues
to proliferate, the impact of simultaneous multiple
drivers, such as climatic changes driven by human
water use for both food and energy production,
remains a critical area for further research (Bellard
et al. 2012; Destouni et al. 2013; Elmhagen et al.
It should be noted that simulated biosphere responses are model-dependent.
Tropical coral reefs and amphibians have already been among the most negatively aected global biota, and range-restricted
species, most notably polar and mountaintop species, have already led to species extinctions (Parmesan 2006). Current
rates and magnitude of species extinctions (terrestrial, freshwater and marine) far exceed normal background rates, with
increases of up to 1000 times that of historical background rates (MA 2005).
¹⁰ For example, Lambin et al. (2001) suggest that land-use change is driven by both proximate causes (which are local and
direct, and explain how and why anthropogenic activity acts on land cover and on ecosystem processes at a local scale), and
underlying causes (indirect or root causes based on regional and sometimes global policies, economic forces and technological
advancement that interact with and mediate the relationship at the local scale). he complex interactions between proximate
and underlying causes interact over time (in a limited number of ways) to drive land management decisions and practices.
226 Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
2. Climate change challenges at
the intersection of biodiversity
and human health
Climate change and variability have irreversible
impacts on the global environment by altering
hydrological systems and freshwater supplies,
advancing land degradation and loss of
biodiversity, and debilitating food production
systems and ecosystem services, thus aecting
health outcomes (WHO 2005). hese factors are
closely interrelated, as deforestation, industrial
agriculture and centralized livestock production
systems further accelerate climate change and
biodiversity loss, thus contributing potential risks
to food security, nutrition, and other aspects of
health, livelihoods and well-being.
he IPCC has identified key risks across sectors
and regions including, among others: (i) risk of loss
of biodiversity of marine and coastal ecosystems,
the goods and services they provide for coastal
livelihoods, especially for fishing communities
in the tropics and the Arctic, challenging
sustained fisheries and aquaculture; (ii) risk of
loss of terrestrial and inland water ecosystems,
biodiversity, and the ecosystem goods, functions
and services they provide for livelihoods; and (iii)
risk of food insecurity and the breakdown of food
systems linked to warming, drought, flooding,
and precipitation variability and extremes,
particularly for poorer populations (Field et al.
2014). In addition, rising CO2 levels over the next
century is likely to aect food nutritional quality,
including the decrease of protein concentration
and other nutrients of many human plant foods
(Taub 2008; Fernando 2012; Myers 2014). Ocean
acidification due to increased CO2 concentration
poses substantial risks to marine ecosystems,
especially polar ecosystems and the biodiversity
of coral reefs, thus challenging invertebrate
fisheries and aquaculture (Portner et al 2014).
Reductions in marine biodiversity due to climate
change and ocean acidification might reduce the
discovery of marine genetic resources useful in the
pharmaceutical, aquaculture and other industries
(Arrieta et al. 2010).
Climate-driven shifts in species distribution,
abundance, seasonal cycles, desynchronized timing
of life history events and ecosystem disruptions
caused by extreme weather events have profound
potential to disrupt and erode ecosystem services,
release pathogens from previous constraints, and
leave human populations ill-equipped to deal with
compounding health challenges. However, studies
of human health as a complex social–ecological
system, replete with climate vulnerability,
are relatively recent (McMichael and Wilcox
2009). Figure 1 shows the complexity of the
nexus between climate, biodiversity and social
interactions. Resilient or vulnerable communities
may cope better, or worse, with both climate and
biodiversity changes. Although building resilient
communities is essential, in particular, given
existing pressures on climate and ecosystems, the
most ecient response is to jointly halt carbon
emissions and ecosystem destruction.
Attributing causality is complex (Parmesan et al.
2011; Parmesan and Yohe 2003) and presents a
challenge to meta-analyses and the translation
of scientific research into simple strategies for
health or conservation agencies. Despite this
challenge, observation and predictive studies
of the direct, indirect and cumulative eects of
climate change on human health acting through
multiple levels of biodiversity are increasing. his
body of information is guiding surveillance and
further targeted research.
he breadth of interest in addressing climate
change within the context of interlinked human,
animal and ecosystem health at a global scale
is discussed in the subsections below. We can
identify several complex relationships with the
primary, secondary and tertiary eects introduced
in Box 1.
2.1 Climate change, food security and
he combined risks noted in the preceding section
and in the chapters on agricultural biodiversity and
nutrition constitute a challenge for food security
and nutrition. his is particularly the case for the
least developed countries and most vulnerable
227Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
communities, such as indigenous populations,
subsistence farmers and gatherers, pastoralists,
coastal populations and artisanal fisherfolk (FAO
2008; Tirado et al. 2010). According to the IPCC,
the risks of global aggregate impacts are moderate
for additional warming between 1°C and 2°C,
reflecting impacts to both the earth’s biodiversity
and the overall global economy. However,
extensive biodiversity loss with associated loss
of ecosystem goods and services results in high
risks at around 3°C additional warming (Field et
al. 2014).
Major climate impacts on water availability and
food security aect disproportionately the welfare
of the poor, including indigenous populations,
women and girls, female-headed households
and those with limited access to land, modern
agricultural inputs, infrastructure and education
(Field 2014). Indigenous peoples rely on their
natural resources for the provision of traditional
foods, fuel and medicines, and will be particularly
aected by the impacts of climate on ecosystems,
biodiversity and the environment (FAO 2008;
Tirado et al. 2010). Traditional food systems are
further threatened because of increasing loss of
indigenous peoples’ traditional territories due to
climate change mitigation measures such as carbon
sinks and renewable energy projects (FAO 2008).
he demand for biofuel is likely to remain high,
and this may result in the clearing of biodiverse
land, such as tropical forests and wetlands, for the
purpose of biofuel cultivation (Tirado et. al 2010).
In this context, it is essential to look for the
co-benefits of nutrition-sensitive climate
ǡǤǢǰǭǠɻ Interactions between climate, biodiversity and social factors. Health is at the centre, in the
intersection of these three drivers. The arrows are not causal but an expression of the dynamics inherent
in the drivers. Social factors may be protective or harmful to health and well-being; climate drivers impact
on biodiversity, on the social factors and directly or indirectly on health. Changes in biodiversity and
ecosystems interact synergistically with climate change and are inƦuenced by social factors. These feedback
loops may magnify biological change and they sometimes exacerbate negative human health outcomes,
directly or indirectly.
Resilient or
or impaired
Ter Ɵary
Climate drivers:
Temp e rat ure
Extreme climate
Health &
228 Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
adaptation and mitigation strategies (Tirado et
al. 2013). Across varying global landscapes, the
ability for family farms, integrated agroforestry
and farming systems to conserve, restore or
augment biodiversity (e.g. species, genetic
and ecosystem diversity) offer opportunities
to enhance dietary diversity and nutrition,
and promote climate resilience, especially as
considered within broader social, economic and
environmental policy frameworks. Adaptation
measures targeting biodiversity (and ecosystem
diversity) can simultaneously provide nutrient-
rich food, and benefit the environment through
supporting services such as pollination, nutrient
cycling, temperature and water regulation, soil
formation and pest control (CBD 2010).
2.2 Climate change and water security
As the chapter on freshwater and agricultural
biodiversity in this volume describes, the
provision of clean water for drinking, sanitation
and agricultural uses is both an essential service
regulated by ecosystems and an important health
determinant (WHO 2012). While the long-term
impacts of climate change on water resources
are dicult to quantify, it is well established that
human communities are reliant on groundwater
for drinking, sanitation and other uses essential to
human survival; yet rising sea levels cause saline
water intrusion into essential groundwater aquifers
near coastal regions, decreasing the availability of
water resources for human purposes (Vörösmarty
et al. 2000). Climate change contributes to more
intermittent and intense precipitation patterns,
increases the risks of floods, droughts and other
hazards, causes the melting of glaciers and
increases evapotranspiration rates, amplifies
existing global public health challenges, and
further destabilizes the balance of environmental
and social systems (WHO 2012).
Variations in the hydrological cycle resulting
from climate change must be closely monitored
(Vörösmarty et al. 2000), together with the
physical, biological and chemical processes that
drive them at multiple levels, with consideration
for the socioeconomic and political contexts of
our human-dominated earth system (Bogardi et
al. 2012). In this context, eective responses will
necessitate innovative cross-sectoral initiatives
and integrative climate adaptation and mitigation
strategies, such as ecosystem based-adaptation
(e.g. see Box 3).
2.3 Climate change impacts on
traditional medicines, pharmacology
and toxicology
Diversity in the production of secondary chemical
products remains an important source of existing
and new metabolites of pharmacological interest
in medicinal plants, and this may be aected by
climate change (Ziska et al 2009). Few studies
have examined how pharmacological compounds
might respond to recent or projected changes in
CO2 and/or temperature. For example, increases
in growth temperature and CO2 affect the
production and concentration of atropine and
scopolamine in jimson weed (Datura stromonium)
(Ziska et al. 2005), and recent and projected
CO2 concentrations increase the production of
morphine in wild poppy (Papave r setige rum) (Ziska
et al. 2008).
More than 700 plant species are poisonous to
humans. Rising temperatures and longer growing
seasons would in principle increase the presence
of such species in the environment, but the
interaction between CO2 and on the concentration
or production of such poisons and plant toxicology
is largely unknown (Ziska 2015) and needs to be
explored. More than 100 dierent plant species
are associated with contact dermatitis, which
occurs by contact with plant chemical irritants
present in leaves, flowers, savia roots, etc. One
well-known chemical is urushiol that induces
contact dermatitis in the poison ivy group
(Toxicodendron/Rhus spp.). Poison ivy growth and
urushiol congeners are highly sensitive to rising
CO2 levels (Mohan et al. 2006). hese results
suggest possible links among rising CO2, plant
biology and increased contact dermatitis. his area
deserves further research.
229Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
2.4 Climate change and infectious
disease emergence and re-emergence
The complex interactions between ecological
factors and climate change increasingly predict
changes in the global epidemiology of many
vector-borne and waterborne diseases (WHO
2012). his is of growing interest and concern
for scientists from a variety of fields, including
ecology, microbiology, epidemiology and related
medical fields (Lipp et al. 2002). Additionally,
interest is garnered from experts in the social
sciences, aware of the close relationship between
the geophysical environment and the economic
and social systems it sustains. Such interest
emerges from concerns over human and animal
health problems vulnerable to the interaction
between climate change and other factors, such
as increasing antibiotic resistance (Patz et al.
2005; Epstein 2001), emerging infectious diseases
(Jones et al. 2008; Wilson 1991), and potential
vulnerabilities of medicinal and aromatic plant
(MAP) species.¹¹ hese, in turn, have subsequent
influence on the cultural and socioeconomic
determinants of health (Cavaliere 2009; Padulosi
et al. 2011).
here is mounting evidence that climate change
will alter the patterns of animal (Altizer et al. 2013;
Harvell et al. 2002), plant (Pautasso et al. 2012)
and human (Patz et al. 2005; Purse et al. 2005)
diseases. Additional evidence suggests that rising
temperatures and changing humidity and rainfall
patterns have already altered the distribution of
some waterborne illnesses and disease vectors
(IPCC 2014d), notably affecting populations
with little or no acquired resistance and, as such,
causing health systems to be destabilized (WHO
2012). For example, as the chapter on water
quality indicates, cholera (causative agents Vibrio
cholerae O1 and Vibrio cholerae 0139) remains
a major public health problem, with ongoing
outbreaks occurring in low-income countries with
poor access to sanitation infrastructure¹² (Ali et
al. 2012). Rising ocean temperatures aect the
ecology of the aquatic environment, for example,
by increasing algal blooms, with corresponding
implications for the epidemiology of diseases
such as cholera. he population dynamics of this
pathogenic microorganism in the environment is
strongly influenced by environmental factors such
as salinity, seasonal patterns and the presence of
copepods,¹³ which in turn are modulated by larger-
scale changes in climate (Lipp et al. 2002; Vineis et
al. 2011). Prolonged floods and droughts may also
contribute to water contamination and potentially
exacerbate the risks of cholera and other forms of
diarrhoeal disease (WHO 2012).
In natural systems, changing climatic variables can
fundamentally influence successional processes
and community dynamics. For example, a 12-year
warming experiment in Colorado, USA, to evaluate
the damage of pathogens and herbivores on six
of the most common plant species (i.e. Artemisia
tridentata, Helianthella quinquenervis, Erigeron
speciosus, Potentilla gracilis, Potentilla hippiana and
Lathyrus leucanthus) found that plants exposed to
warmer temperatures suered the most damage
and were attacked by a larger number of species.
The study concluded that climatic changes
are likely to result in changes to community
composition (Roy et al. 2004). Although there are
few long-term datasets (for examples, see Jeger
and Pautasso 2008; Fabre et al. 2011), a large
number of other scientific analyses and modelling
projects have been carried out to examine the
impacts of climate change on plant pathogens
and many have reached similar conclusions (see
Pautasso et al. 2012 and references therein).
¹¹ Whether climate change poses a more prominent threat to MAP species than other threats such as unsustainable use is
not established. However, the potential eects on MAPs may be particularly significant due to their cultural and medical
value within traditional medicine systems (Cavaliere 2009). Moreover, given that many wild species, including MAPs, grow
in mountainous regions, it is likely that at least some will be at risk (Padulosi et al. 2014).
¹² According to recent WHO estimates, only 5–10% of the actual number of cholera cases occurring worldwide are reported,
and of the estimated 3–5 million cases that occur globally every year, about 100 000 to 120 000 people die (Ali et al. 2012).
¹³ he causative agents of cholera include brackish waters (Tamplin et al. 1990) and crustacean copepods (Huq et al. 1983),
and climate change contributes to an increase in both.
230 Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
Box 2 discusses the impact of heat waves and other
extreme weather events on fruit bats and bat-borne
diseases. Loss of host predators and competitors,
changes in parasite and pathogen survival and
reproduction are additional mechanisms by which
climate change impacts infectious disease. For
malaria, disease transmission-enhancing changes
have been described in the population dynamics
of both the mosquito vector, and the pathogen
within it, including altitudinal and latitudinal
range shifts in Africa and South America (Siraj
et al. 2014). While for many human diseases the
potential eects of climate change are obscured
by socioeconomic factors and control eorts,
strong evidence of climate eects on infectious
disease comes from invertebrate, animal and plant
diseases (Altizer et al. 2013).
Bats, and fruit bats in particular, became the focus of increased human health interest after
novel diseases, including Nipah virus disease and SARS, emerged in the 1990s–2000s. Land-use
change and bush meat hunting are the suspected primary reasons for shifts in host and pathogen
relationships (Luis et al. 2013) but the impact of climate is likely to be an additional factor in their
emergence and continued transmission, as these species are capable of Ʀying long distances to
optimize resources and ƥnd alternative roosts. Widespread bushƥres in Sumatra were suspected of
inƦuencing fruit bat–pathogen dynamics prior to the emergence of Nipah virus in Malaysia in 1998
(Chua 2003). While epidemic enhancement and agricultural intensiƥcation are co-factors (Pulliam et
al. 2012), it remains possible that the ƥres and other climatic stress factors on food resources have
inƦuenced viral loads and spillover (Daszak et al. 2013).
More speculatively, climate change, together with deforestation and other land-use changes, has
been hypothesized as a contributing factor in the recent outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa (see
also the chapter on infectious diseases in this volume). It is diƧcult to isolate climate as a driver in
the context of extensive deforestation and profound economic and public health failures, further
undermined by years of civil conƦict (Bausch and Schwarz 2014). However, prolonged depression
of primary forest production during lengthy droughts in central Africa followed by sudden rainfall
events appears to enhance the opportunity for Ebola transmission between bats and other wildlife
that concentrate on available resources (Tucker et al. 2002).
During the Australian summer of 2014, an estimated 100 000 fruit bats fell dead in the streets
of Brisbane and south-eastern Queensland towns. (The number that died outside urban areas is
unknown.) The bats are highly temperature sensitive (Welbergen et al. 2008) and it is unlikely they
could survive a heat wave with temperatures above 43°C. Removing corpses was a major exercise
for the urban authorities, and gloves and collection bins were supplied to residents. At least 16
people were treated for possible Australian bat lyssavirus (related to rabies and fatal without
immunoglobulins) after they were scratched or bitten by dying bats. It is yet to be understood
what eƤect the deaths will have on the bat colonies themselves. The 2011 spike and dispersed
distribution of another zoonotic (transmissible to humans) Australian bat-borne disease, Hendra
virus, is believed to be a consequence of the dispersal of bats after widespread Ʀooding in south-
east Queensland following Cyclone 8asi in 2010. The higher latitude range extension of two host
species of this disease, and increased urbanization of all four, in preceding decades are suspected
factors in disease emergence (Plowright et al. 2011).
Box 2. Bat-borne diseases, climate, heat waves and extreme weather events:
mounting evidence of important relationships
231Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
2.5 Climate change and disaster risk
Based on recent data from the United Nations
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
(UNISDR), well over 80% of disasters are related
to climate, contribute enormously to economic
losses and, as the chapter on disaster risk
reduction in this volume also indicates, trigger
short- and long-term population displacement.¹⁴
he impact of climate change on the frequency
and intensity of extreme weather events, such as
extreme precipitation, coastal flooding and heat
waves, is already exacerbating risks to unique and
threatened ecosystems, costing human lives and
decreasing the viability of human settlements. In
the last decade of the twentieth century, extreme
weather events accounted for the death of some
600 000 people and caused damages worth billions
of dollars (Hales et al. 2003). Based on the most
recent findings of Working Group II of the IPCC,
the risks posed by some extreme events, such as
heat waves, are likely to be enhanced with only 1°C
of additional warming. A large number of species
and systems with limited adaptive capacities,
including Artic sea ice and coral reef systems, are
considerably threatened by a warming climate
and, from a human perspective, many cultures
are already at risk. he distribution of impacts
from extreme weather events is uneven, with
disadvantaged and vulnerable populations in
countries at all levels of development being at
greatest risk (IPCC 2014d).
Rising sea levels caused by the warming of the
ocean, glacial melt and wetlands alteration (e.g.
Syvitski et al. 2009) can cause increased flooding
and the erosion and inundation of coastal
ecosystems, further endangering wetlands
and posing concomitant threats to coastal
communities, including those of small island
developing states (SIDS).¹⁵ Without a significant
scaling up of climate adaptation eorts, it has
been projected that the rise in sea levels could
increase the number of people exposed to coastal
flooding more than tenfold by 2080 (a rise of
more than 100 million people a year) (CBD 2010).
Rising seas could also impact on human health
and well-being through an increase in salination
of coastal freshwater aquifers, and by disrupting
storm water drainage and sewage disposal (Patz
2001). In turn, repeated flooding or increased
salination can lead to population displacement,
thereby further heightening the vulnerability
of populations (Costello et al. 2009). As several
case studies in the chapter on disaster risk have
shown, refugees suer substantial health burdens,
overcrowding, lack of shelter and competition for
resources, which is also often associated with
conflict (WHO 2012).
he United Nations (UN) World Conference on
Disaster Risk Reduction recently adopted the
Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction
2015–2030, recognizing the intimate links
between disaster risk, climate change and
poverty. he confluence of these conditions lead
to a convergence of less resilient built, natural and
human environments, making populations more
vulnerable to displacement, disease and the loss
of livelihoods. To meet the resulting ambitious
global targets, as well as those that may emerge
from other global frameworks in 2015 – including
under the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) process on climate change and
in the UN post-2015 Development Agenda – each
of the sectors must meaningfully engage, together
with political authorities, local communities, civil
society, and the public at large to understand and
address the combined risks of poverty, land-use
change, ecosystem degradation, climate change
and poor urban planning.
¹⁴ See from 6 March 2015.
¹⁵ he recently concluded “SAMOA Pathway” that emerged from the third UN Conference on Small Island Developing States
held in September 2014 highlights the importance of a range of issues at the nexus of biodiversity, health and development,
including climate change, in the context of particular threats faced by SIDS. See for example:
232 Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
ã.5.1 %ountain e;osQsteEs and ;liEate
;hange at the interse;tion of Oater and
food se;uritQ disease eEergen;e and
extreEe Oeather eNents
Mountain ecosystems are critically important
centres of biodiversity. hey play a unique role in
the supply of services essential to human survival,
especially critical to mountain dwellers and
lowland communities. Occupying approximately
one fifth of the lands surface, mountains play a
critical role in the water cycle both by capturing
moisture from air masses and as water sources¹⁶
stored as snow, ice and permafrost, which provide
fresh water to sustain communities, agriculture,
energy production (primarily hydroelectric
power), downstream industries and livelihoods
(Price 1998). he large majority of the planet’s
major rivers and tributaries depend on water
that begins the terrestrial phase of its cycle in
mountain regions (Bajracharya and Shrestha
2011; Bandyopadhyay et al. 1997; MA 2005; CBD
2012). In arid and semi-arid regions, over 90% of
river flow is derived from mountains (Price, 1998).
Mountain ecosystems are particularly vulnerable
to the impacts of climate change, with
corresponding impacts on the populations reliant
upon the critical resources and services they
provide, including water, energy, timber and food
(see Box 3).
The Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH), otherwise referred to as the greater Himalayan region, extend
from eastern Nepal and Bhutan to northern Afghanistan, and have among the most extensive areas
covered by glaciers and permafrost on the planet. They contain water resources that drain through
ten of the largest rivers in Asia,ƴƻ from which over 1.3 million people derive their livelihoods and
upon which many more depend for water and other resources (Eriksson et al. 2009). The region has
been recognized as a uniquely biodiversity-rich area with equally unique topographic characteristics
and socioeconomic and environmental challenges. The accelerated rate of warming,ƴƼ glacier ice
melt and related implications on the hydrological systems of central, south and east Asia are among
the most widely cited (Armstrong 2010; Eriksson et al. 2009). The retreating of glaciers (in this region
and elsewhere) is a sentinel indicator of climate change but also one of the most diƧcult to quantify,
given the physical and spatial complexity of glaciers and data collection.ƵƳ
Ongoing challenges in regions in which large proportions of the population live in mountain
communities, such as Bhutan and Nepal, include poverty, poor medical support, less access to
education and shorter life expectancies. While climate change may bring some beneƥts to mountain
Box 3. Climate change and ecosystem-based adaptation in the Hindu Kush HimalayasƸƾ
¹⁶ In the greater Himalaya region, it is estimated that snow and glacial melting contribute approximately 50% of annual river
flows (Eriksson et al. 2009).
¹⁷ Here, the term Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) sometimes referred to as greater Himalayan region, includes the Himalayan,
Hindu Kush, Karakoram, Pamir and Tien Shan mountain ranges, where there is currently glacier coverage. he HKH,
however, does not constitute one single region, as the eastern Himalayas are separated from the Karakoram–Hindu Kush
mountains by approximately 2000 km, though there is no sharp separation between east and west. Dierences in climate
and in glacier behaviour and dynamics have been reported across the area, with variations in these conditions throughout
(Armstrong 2010).
¹⁸ hese are the Amu Darya, Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indus, Irrawaddy, Mekong, Salween, Tarim, Yangtze and Yellow Rivers.
¹⁹ It has been estimated that global warming in the region has been 0.6 ºC per decade versus 0.74 ºC per hundred years as a
global average (Eriksson et al. 2009).
²⁰ Several glaciers in the extended HKH region are retreating but the extent of the impact of climate change on glacier ice is not
well known as glacier data in the Himalayas and surrounding mountains are very sparse and conditions vary significantly
along the south–east to north–west transect of the Himalayan–Karakoram–Hindu Kush mountain ranges (Armstrong 2010).
233Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
2.6 Climate change and urbanization
he global urban transition provides challenges
and opportunities for health at the intersection
of climate change and biodiversity. Currently,
urban populations are growing by more than
1 million people every week and, by 2030, it is
estimated that 2 in every 3 people will live in
urban areas – a total of more than 6 billion urban
dwellers worldwide. Most future population
growth will be in small- and medium-sized
cities in low- and middle-income countries.
Urban health inequalities are well documented
(WHO and UN-HABITAT 2010), and rapid,
unplanned urbanization threatens biodiversity
and exacerbates public health challenges across
dierent levels of economic development. Climate
change especially amplifies health risks among
regions (e.g. longer growing seasons), mountain dwellers and lowland communities also face a
broad and unique range of climate-related health risks. These include water and food shortages,
increased risk of natural disasters and the expansion of water-related and vector-borne diseases
(Ebi et al. 2007; Ahmed and Suphachalasai 2014).Ƶƴ Increased variability in precipitation patterns
(including variability in monsoon and more frequent extreme rainfall), coupled with increased risk
of extreme weather events and glacial ice melt are predicted to increase the risk of Ʀoods (carrying
rock, sediments and debris), landslides, threats to forest ecoregions including increased forest ƥres
in some areas, soil erosion, and habitat and ecosystem disruption,ƵƵ damage to infrastructure and
property, injury and loss of human life (Ahmed and Suphachalasai 2014; Armstrong 2010; Ebi et
al. 2007). Of particular concern in the region are the potentially devastating impacts on mountain
dwellers and lowland communities from glacial lake outburst Ʀoods, which have become more
frequent since the latter half of the twentieth century (WHO 2005; Armstrong 2010).
Addressing the threats posed or compounded by climate change demands the development of
integrated and holistic approaches for the management of mountain ecosystems that sustain the
Ʀow of life-supporting services. This can be achieved with innovative adaptation solutions (including
ecosystem-based adaptation), such as sustaining highland wetland systems that provide water
regulation, other services and habitats for critical animal and plant species (including medicinal
plants), or new technologies such as drip irrigation systems (CBD 2012; Chettri 2011).
Ecosystem-based adaptation in fragile mountain ecosystems such as HKH can not only provide
co-beneƥts at the global or national level but may also be integrated into regional policies to
jointly encourage climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and
development at a landscape level (Sharma et al. 2010). In the HKH, holistic ecosystem-based
adaptation strategies that emphasize adaptation as an interdisciplinary issue have been advocated.
These interventions seek to achieve the sustainable management of the transboundary reserve
system through the application of landscape-based solutions to jointly reduce the vulnerabilities
of biodiversity and local communities to climate change and other drivers by restoring endemic
vegetation, developing connectivity between ecosystems, and monitoring large-scale changes to
increase the social and economic resilience of local populations (Chattra et al. 2009).
²¹ For example, the reduced availability and quality of freshwater or changes in monsoon patterns can at once aect agricultural
production by decreasing crop yield, increasing water and food insecurity (particularly for those living at altitudes of 2500
m or higher) and lead to a rise in the prevalence of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoeal disease (Ebi et al. 2007). he
impacts on agriculture and food production can also be especially severe. For example, in Nepal, an estimated 64% of all
cultivated area is dependent on monsoon rainfall (Chaudhary and Aryal 2009).
²² Some species may even become extinct as a result of gradual habitat loss resulting from global warming, particularly in
mountain biota above the tree line, and in high latitude and high altitude biomes (Chaudhary and Aryal 2014; Chapin 2004).
234 Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
poor and vulnerable communities, including
through inundation in low-lying cities and the
health risks from inadequate water supply,
sanitation and housing. However, auent urban
areas also face new challenges. In addition to other
negative health impacts described throughout
this volume, recent findings suggest that climate
change may contribute to an increased incidence
in allergies, particularly in urban areas.
Climate change may alter the diversity,
production, allergenicity, distribution and timing
of airborne allergens. hese changes contribute
to the severity and prevalence of allergic disease
in humans. Increased CO2 and temperature
is altering seasonality and beginning to aect
the quantitative and/or qualitative aspects of
the three distinct plant-based contributions to
allergenic pollen: trees in the spring, grasses and
weeds in the summer, and ragweed (Ambrosia
spp.) in the fall (autumn) (Ziska et al. 2015). For
example, a recent study on changes in climate
in the United States has found that rising
temperatures, altered precipitation patterns,
and increasing atmospheric CO2 are expected to
contribute to increasing levels of some airborne
allergens, and associated increases in asthma
episodes and other allergic illnesses, compared
to a future without climate change (Neal et al.
2015). Several prior studies using urban areas as
proxies for both higher temperatures and CO2 also
showed earlier flowering of pollen species, which
may lead to a longer total pollen season (Neil
and Wu 2006; George et al. 2007). Microclimatic
eects of urbanization have been associated with
longer pollen seasons and earlier floral initiation
in European cities (Rodriguez-Rajo et al. 2010).
As climate change, biodiversity loss and other
pressures combine to pose new challenges, they
also present new opportunities for positive
development to protecting biodiversity, health
and well-being, including in urban areas and at
subnational levels (Puppim de Oliveira et al.
2010). Further multidisciplinary study of these
various intersections and greater collaboration
across various scales of governance, including
local governance and communities, are a necessary
prerequisite to meeting these challenges (Reid
2015). As the next section discusses, ecosystem-
based conservation and adaptation provide
important opportunities for communities to play
a central role in the development of strategies to
address climate change.
3. Ways forward
3.1 Ecosystem-based adaptation and
ecosystem-based mitigation
Biodiversity conservation can support eorts
to reduce the negative eects of climate change
through ecosystem-based approaches to mitigation
and adaptation.²³ Conserved or restored habitats
can remove CO
from the atmosphere, thus helping
to address climate change by storing carbon (for
example, reducing emissions from deforestation
and forest degradation). Mangroves are natural
sources of biodiverse food, fish, shells, fruits,
fuel, medicines, and they act as natural bioshields
that protect coastal lands and local communities
from the impacts of climate-related extreme
weather events, and also contribute to carbon
sequestration. Adaptation strategies to conserve
intact mangrove ecosystems or to repopulate them
can thereby help attenuate potentially severe
impacts of climate change, including flooding
and storm surges, while contributing to climate
mitigation eorts and saving human lives (Das
and Vincent 2009).
Many successful examples of ecosystem-based
approaches are beginning to emerge.²⁴ Ecosystem-
based adaptation (EBA) activities can include:
establishing diverse agroforestry systems to
²³ Ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) integrates the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services into an overall climate change
adaptation strategy, while ecosystem-based mitigation (EBM) involves using ecosystems for their carbon storage and
sequestration abilities, by creating, restoring and sustainably managing ecosystems as a climate mitigation strategy.
²⁴ For example, the forest rehabilitation project in Krkonoše and Sumaya National Parks in the Czech Republic is one of several
examples of the implementation of ecosystem-based adaptation strategies and the challenges they have encountered (see
Naumann et al. 2011; Dowald and Osti 2011).
235Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
cope with increased risk from climate change;²⁵
sustainable management of upland wetlands
and floodplains for maintenance of water flow
and quality; conserving agrobiodiversity to
provide specific gene pools for crop and livestock
adaptation to climate change; maintaining or
restoring mangroves or other coastal wetlands
to reduce coastal flooding and erosion; and
conservation and restoration of forests to
stabilize land slopes and regulate water flows
(Munang et al. 2013). EBA and ecosystem-based
mitigation (EBM) strategies and approaches can
additionally be highly cost–eective options that
provide a range of social, economic and cultural
co-benefits while proactively responding to the
adverse impacts of climate change, safeguarding
biodiversity and contributing to the livelihoods of
local communities (CBD 2009; Doswald and Osti
2011; Goulden et al. 2009).
In Central and South America, there are
several examples of EBM strategies that
support the establishment of protected areas,
conservation agreements and community
resource management. Resilient crop varieties,
climate forecasts and integrated management
of water resources are also being adopted in the
agricultural, aquaculture and silviculture sectors
(IPCC 2014d). Aqua–silviculture systems, which
integrate mangrove forestry with fish and crab
aquaculture ponds, are commonly used in South-
East Asia. hese systems are more resilient to
shocks and extreme events, and they also lead to
increased production due to improved ecosystem
services. While climate change adaptation is
becoming embedded in some planning processes,
the implementation of responses remains variable
and requires strengthening (IPCC 2014d). EBM
and EBA strategies that include communities as
a central component of planning, address the
governance and policy context within which they
are developed, and build on interdisciplinary
scientific inquiry, provide valuable opportunities
to address these challenges, and to scale up
these strategies through mainstreaming and
diversification across sectors (Reid 2015).
4. Conclusion
A range of local (e.g. invasive species) and global (e.g.
long-range pollution) stressors can make natural
adaptation more dicult in the face of accelerating
climate change. In the absence of robust climate
mitigation and adaptation strategies, the rate and
extent of anthropogenic activity contributing to
climatic changes will continue to aect biodiversity,
constrain the capacity of ecosystems to deliver
essential services, and aect human health both
directly and in combination with other drivers and
pressures. hese include land-use change, pollution,
population growth, urbanization and globalization
(Campbell et al. 2009; Parmesan and Martens
2009). hese demand the adoption of a broad range
of multilevel sustainable-use and conservation
practices (e.g. strengthening protected area
networks; ensuring adaptive management through
monitoring and evaluation). he full involvement
of communities and policy-makers alike is a key
determinant of their success (Martínez et al.
2012). Additionally, climate change adaptation
and mitigation strategies cannot be dissociated
from health equity considerations, without which
equity gaps are likely to increase with a resounding
impact on the social determinants of health for the
poorest, most vulnerable communities (Costello
et al. 2009).
There is a reservoir of important indigenous
traditional knowledge, which is an invaluable
resource for climate change adaptation and
biodiversity conser vation in indigenous
populations, and increases the effectiveness
of adaptation planning strategies (Field et al.
2014; Bennett et al. 2014). Indicators of climate
adaptation and resilience should also include
nutrition outcomes such as the Dietary Diversity
at the Household level (HDDS), including
Women’s Dietary Diversity Score (WDDS) or the
new indicator Minimum Dietary Diversity for
²⁵ Forests provide a carbon reservoir as they contain about 60% of all carbon stored in terrestrial ecosystems (CIFOR 2007),
and they can serve as important buers for climate adaptation strategies. As deforestation contributes a large proportion
of global carbon emissions, curbing deforestation and investing in reforestation activities are a critical adaptation strategy
(Chaudhary and Aryal 2009).
236 Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
Women (MDD-W ), which has been suggested
for consideration as one of the priority nutrition
indicators for the post-2015 Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs).
Conserving natural terrestrial, freshwater and
marine ecosystems and restoring degraded
ecosystems (including their genetic and species
diversity) are also essential for the overall goals
of both the CBD and the UNFCCC. he key role of
ecosystems in the global carbon cycle, for climate
change adaptation, for the provision of a wide
range of ecosystem services essential to human
health and well-being, and for the broader goals of
sustainable development, including the MDGs and
SDGs that will follow (Haines et al. 2012), make
an ecosystem approach indispensible. Since 2008,
WHO has also adopted a very active programme
to guard human health from the impacts of
climate change²⁶ and it recently hosted its first
international conference on related health issues.²⁷
While somewhat buered against environmental
changes by culture and technology, human health
is fundamentally dependent on the continuing
flow of ecosystem services (Corvalán et al. 2005).
Among poor and vulnerable populations in
particular, climate change is already aecting
health in myriad ways and, more generally,
climate change presents increasing future health
threats worldwide (McMichael et al. 2012).
Climate change aects health through primary,
secondary and tertiary mechanisms, including
its impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem service
provision (Butler 2014a), adding urgency to the
task of addressing other international health
priorities (Haines et al. 2012). he recognition
that climate change mitigation strategies can
have substantial benefits for both health and
biodiversity conservation presents policy options
that are potentially both more cost–eective and
socially attractive than are those that address these
priorities independently (Haines et al. 2009).
he magnitude and breadth of these impacts
will require large-scale cross-sectoral efforts
and integrative approaches to the analysis of
environmental change and health outcomes.
In turn, these must draw not from an isolated
analysis of health impacts but also draw on
historical and contemporary insights about the
underlying “factors that have determined the
structure and distribution of biodiverse systems”
(Hoberg and Brooks 2015). Holistic strategies for
climate change mitigation and adaptation, which
jointly consider multiple objectives, including
biodiversity conservation and livelihoods, will
likely be more eective and sustainable than
stand-alone strategies that focus on any single
objective, such as carbon sequestration (Heller
and Zavaleta 2009).
Looking ahead, global health leaders are now
calling for a “planetary health” approach with
strengthened focus on threats to human
civilizations and, ultimately, human survival,
from disturbances in planetary systems (Horton
2013; Lancet-Rockefeller Foundation Commission
on Planetary Health 2015), and an ecosocial
understanding of health, which acknowledges
its ecological, economic and social foundations.
here is a pressing need to formally recognize
key environmental limits and processes, and
the thresholds that we must respect in order
to maintain the sustainability of our planet
(CBD 2014; Rockström et al. 2009). he current
reliance on gross domestic product (GDP) as the
primary indicator of success has led to perverse
outcomes and has not delivered fair levels of well-
being for society or individuals (Fleurbaey and
Blanchet 2013). Contraction and convergence
will bring potential health benefits (Stott 2006).
Accounting for benefits to health and well-being
in development decision-making can encourage
transitions to more sustainable and equitable
patterns of resource use and consumption and,
at the same time, improve population health (Dora
et al. 2014). hese changes are essential to avoid
widespread and profound damage to ecosystems,
upon which human survival ultimately depends.
²⁶ World Health Assembly resolution 61.19: Climate change and health. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2008. Available
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... Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and it is now widely recognized that such long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns, and biodiversity are interconnected [1]. In fact, biodiversity is affected by climate change with negative consequences for human wellbeing, but, at the same time, biodiversity makes an essential contribution to both climate-change mitigation and adaptation. ...
... Essential goods and services, stability, and productivity of ecosystems are a few of the key functions attributed to biological diversity (Alho, 2012;Bernstein and Ludwig, 2008;Emmett Duffy, 2009;Gamfeldt et al., 2008;Turner, 2018). However, populations are declining rapidly due to pollution, overexploitation, habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, and climate change (Living Planet Report 2020, WWF). ...
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The umbrella species concept is a frequently used concept in conservation since the conservation of an umbrella species may benefit other species. Keystone species are often suggested as potential umbrella species, but the validity of this approach remains uncertain. Moreover, climate change can have a multidirectional effect on the distribution of species, in which the distribution of umbrella species can be affected differently than that of beneficiary species. The validity of applying the umbrella species concept in conservation may thus be jeopardized by climate change. This study assessed the potential of two keystone species, the plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) and the Daurian pika (Ochotona dauurica), to be umbrella species for 13 potentially beneficiary species under current and future environmental conditions. Of these 13 species, five currently only co-occur with the plateau pika, five only with the Daurian pika, and three with both pika species. Current and future distributions of the pika species and potentially beneficiary species were predicted using bioclimatic and land-use variables. Range overlaps, Pearson correlations, niche similarity tests and relative suitability tests were performed to assess the umbrella potential of both pika species. Our results show that at present, both pika species may be considered to be umbrella species, benefitting several co-occurring species. However, species that currently co-occur with both pika species will not benefit from conservation of either of the pikas in the future years under climate change scenarios. The plateau pika loses its potential to act as umbrella species for two of the four species which currently may benefit. We can conclude that keystone species like pikas can act as umbrella species for carefully selected potentially beneficiary species under current conditions. Due to climate change related shifts in species distributions, they may however lose their umbrella species status in the future, which should be considered when selecting species conservation strategies.
... Air pollutants act as additional stressors on plants. They may respond with changes in protein and metabolite profiles of pollen and increase their allergenicity [26]. For example, birch pollen collected in regions with high atmospheric ozone show increased levels of the major allergen Bet v 1 in pollen samples [27]. ...
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It is obvious that social, biogenic, and anthropogenic environmental factors, as well as nutrition contribute to the development and course of atopic eczema. Social deprivation and stress have a negative impact on atopic eczema symptoms, and social change in recent decades has led to a "westernized" lifestyle associated with high prevalence of atopic eczema in industrialized countries. Urbanization leads to an increase in air pollution and a decrease in biodiversity, which negatively affects atopic eczema. Climate change alters the allergenicity of pollen, which increases atopic eczema symptoms in some patients during the pollen season. Protective natural and social factors for the prevention of atopic eczema and for the promotion of "climate resilience" should be given greater consideration in future research.
... Climate change indirectly affects allergies by altering pollen concentrations, allergenic potential, composition, and species migration. Longer and more intense exposure to pollen can increase sensitization rates, and increased allergenicity of pollen may cause more severe health effects in allergic individuals (Damialis et al. 2019). The severity of allergic reactions also can increase when sensitive individuals are exposed simultaneously to pollen, PM 2.5 , and ozone (Bédard et al. 2019), and the concentrations of all are projected to increase in the coming decades. ...
Technical Report
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Wildfire dynamics are affected by climate change, past and contemporary land management and human activity, and expansion of non-native invasive grasses. From 1984 through 2018, annual area burned in Oregon increased considerably. Over the next 50 to 100 years, area burned and fire frequency are projected to increase substantially, initially east of the crest of the Cascade Range and then in the western Cascade Range. Over the long term, depending on how vegetation and fire weather shift with climatic changes and fuel and fire management, fire severity also may increas.e
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The connection between nature conservation and human wellbeing is well known, however, the role of declining biodiversity and emerging diseases is relatively less studied. The presence of a thriving biological diversity is known to have therapeutic effects on human health. On the other hand, human economic activities have contributed to a sharp decline in species, resulting in poor ecosystem health. Several studies have shown how microorganisms have switched from animals to humans, leading to novel diseases. This review describes studies on zoonotic diseases and biodiversity, with examples from India. It is argued that conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems and changes in economic activities must be made to ward off new diseases, and why cooperation between ministries is critical to restrict the decline of biological diversity in a megadiverse country like India.
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Climate change affects the reproductive life cycles of plants, including pollen production, which has consequences for allergic respiratory diseases. We examined climatic trends at eight locations in Bavaria, Southern Germany, with pollen time series of at least 10 years (up to 30 years in Munich). Climate change in Bavaria was characterized by a rise in temperature, but not during the winter. There is also a trend towards a more continental climate in Bavaria, which is significant in the Alps in the south of the territory. The influence of climate change depended on pollen type. Wind-pollinated arboreal species (e.g. Alnus, Betula and Cupressaceae/Taxaceae) showed advances in the start and end dates of pollen seasons and an increase in pollen load. These changes correlated negatively with late-winter (February) and spring temperatures (April). For herbaceous species, like Poaceae and Urticaceae, an earlier season was observed. Although precipitation is not a limiting factor in Southern Germany, water availability in the spring did influence the magnitude of grass pollen seasons. The effect of climatic change on the characteristics of pollen seasons was also more pronounced at higher altitudes, significant at > 800 m above sea level. Our results show that trends for start, end dates and intensity were similar at all locations, but only statistically significant at some. If we assume that earlier and more intense pollen seasons result in increases in prevalence and severity of allergic diseases, then the effect of climate change on public health in Bavaria may be significant.
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The urban forest is a green infrastructure system that delivers multiple environmental, economic, social and health services, and functions in cities. Environmental benefits of urban trees are well understood, but no review to date has examined how urban trees affect human health. This review provides a comprehensive summary of existing literature on the health impacts of urban trees that can inform future research, policy, and nature-based public health interventions. A systematic search used keywords representing human health, environmental health, and urban forestry. Following screening and appraisal of several thousand articles, 201 studies were conceptually sorted into a three-part framework. Reducing Harm, representing 41% of studies, includes topics such as air pollution, ultraviolet radiation, heat exposure, and pollen. Restoring Capacities, at 31%, includes attention restoration, mental health, stress reduction, and clinical outcomes. Building Capacities, at 28%, includes topics such as birth outcomes, active living, and weight status. The studies that were reviewed show substantial heterogeneity in purpose and method yet indicate important health outcomes associated with people’s exposure to trees. This review will help inform future research and practice, and demonstrates why urban forest planning and management should strategically promote trees as a social determinant of public health.
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The Technical Series N° 89, produced by the secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity summarizes the recommendations made by scientists, to policy makers, as an effort to bridge science and policy. This is the product of an International symposium in Lima (27-29 -11-2014), previous to the UNFCCC COP 20, that took place in Lima. The volumen contains sixteen papers presenting the state of the art on research topics pertaining to the relationships between biodiversity and climate change, the impacts on biodiversity and socio-ecological systems and its measurements, and some approaches such as ecosystem-based adaptation. Most but not all of these documents refer to Peruvian and Latinamerican research, mostly forests. At the end, the document presents the recommendations on how to use already existing results and ideas for further research. The volumen was edited by Lily Rodríguez and Ione Anderson.
Technical Report
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The Large Marine Ecosystems (LME) around South America are highly productive, and diverse, and play an important role in the economy and society of the surrounding countries. These environments are under the effect of climate change, but little is known about how variability at different scales influences their biodiversity and the abundance of the exploited populations. Our work suggests that biodiversity can enhance the resilience of ecosystem structure to environmental trends around South America three Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs).
Objectives for This Chapter Introduction Globalization and Free Trade Trade in Livestock and Livestock Products Current Challenges in Animal Disease Control Contemporary Issues in Food Safety Foreign Animal Disease Control in the United States Discussion Points
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OBJECTIVE: To estimate the global burden of cholera using population-based incidence data and reports. METHODS: Countries with a recent history of cholera were classified as endemic or non-endemic, depending on whether they had reported cholera cases in at least three of the five most recent years. The percentages of the population in each country that lacked access to improved sanitation were used to compute the populations at risk for cholera, and incidence rates from published studies were applied to groups of countries to estimate the annual number of cholera cases in endemic countries. The estimates of cholera cases in non-endemic countries were based on the average numbers of cases reported from 2000 to 2008. Literature-based estimates of cholera case-fatality rates (CFRs) were used to compute the variance-weighted average cholera CFRs for estimating the number of cholera deaths. FINDINGS: About 1.4 billion people are at risk for cholera in endemic countries. An estimated 2.8 million cholera cases occur annually in such countries (uncertainty range: 1.4-4.3) and an estimated 87 000 cholera cases occur in non-endemic countries. The incidence is estimated to be greatest in children less than 5 years of age. Every year about 91 000 people (uncertainty range: 28 000 to 142 000) die of cholera in endemic countries and 2500 people die of the disease in non-endemic countries. CONCLUSION: The global burden of cholera, as determined through a systematic review with clearly stated assumptions, is high. The findings of this study provide a contemporary basis for planning public health interventions to control cholera.
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Information on climate change is so far scattered and documents are written in technical language often obscured by sophisticated jargons and complicated mathematical models. As a result, information about causes and consequences of climate change is not understood by general public. The problem is particularly acute in developing countries such as Nepal where literature on climate change is too insufficient to make firm conclusion and develop adaptation and mitigation measures. Hence, we make an attempt to summarize available information to develop a conceptual framework with a view to make it easily accessible among wider audience. Impacts of global warming on ecological factors, ecosystem process and functions, and also on human wellbeing are outlined first for global context. The issues are then discussed for Nepal using available evidences, models, and predictions supplemented by some primary data on local perception and knowledge. Finally, outlooks for future action, research and policy are discussed.
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This report synthesizes the findings from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment's (MA) global and sub-global assessments of how ecosystem changes do, or could, affect human health and well-being. Main topics covered are: Food, fresh water, timber, fibre, and fuel, nutrient and waste management, pollution, processing and detoxification, cultural, spiritual and recreational services, climate regulation, and extreme weather events. <br /
Under the same urbanization pressure, the local climate in large metropolitan areas is also altered. This is especially apparent when certain climatic characteristics are considered, e.g. temperature, humidity and wind. In fact, all the main meteorological parameters are severely affected, resulting in the development of a local climatic regime, which is characterized by increases in temperature (the heat-island effect) and reduction of humidity and wind. Furthermore, in central areas particularly, the continuous replacement of vegetation with buildings and roads severely affects the radiation balance and this further influences the temperature regime of the environment. Under these circumstances the comfort index for those living in big cities is quite different from that for those living in suburban and rural areas.
Climate change's burden of disease seems orders of magnitude too low to justify claims that it is this century's greatest threat to health. However, such claims can be more easily understood by considering how climate change acts as a risk multiplier, compounding pre-existing socially and politically-mediated drivers of adverse health consequences including conflict.
Until now, the mountain agenda has largely been set by a relatively small number of active regional and national governments (and their agencies), international organizations, scientists and NGOs at various levels. It is not only the 'development' and 'conservation' NGOs that have interests in sustainable mountain development; increasingly, members of NGOs that are recreation- and tourism-based are recognizing the need to understand their impacts on mountain communities and environments. As is recognized in Agenda 21 as a whole, the private sector also has a major role to play, yet it has not been particularly well integrated in the implementation of Chapter 13. Chapter 13 has been the impetus for one of the most innovative initiatives to emerge from Agenda 21 - the Mountain Forum.