The authors—public health experts from institutions in Sweden, Germany
and South Africa—say: "It is becoming increasingly clear that
maintaining a sustainable and healthy climate is something that can only
be achieved by means of a concerted global effort, including
large-scale and small-scale actions, in which the public health
community must play an active part."
Evidence from many sectors shows substantial health impacts of climate
change, particularly for the most vulnerable and the authors argue that
possible climate changes constitute a public health crisis at least as
wide-ranging as the effects of tobacco on health. But according to the
authors: "As yet there seems to be a lack of coherence in terms of clear
public health messages about climate aimed at populations in general."
The authors say that there are some things that can help: "Encouraging
people to walk and cycle rather than using motorised transport, and to
eat healthier, locally produced foodstuffs, are clear examples that can
bring both individual health benefits and reduced climate impact."
However, moving from the individual to the corporate and societal levels
needs further actions. The authors say: "In general, individuals cannot
regulate their lives in terms of carbon footprint, for example, in a
way that is completely independent of the societies in which they live."
The authors argue that at the global level the need for consensus
actions on climate that only governments can make is equally important,
but say: "public health voices must be heard on health-related issues in
those circles, including lending support and influence for legislation,
regulatory action, or other reform designed to address climate and
They conclude: "We hope that the continuing [United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change] process will nevertheless lead to an
improving global prognosis—to which the public health community must
contribute by effectively promoting health and climate co-benefits."