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Climate change, prolonged drought conditions and health : implications for rural Australia

  • Year: 2007
  • Author: McMichael, Tony
  • Journal Name: 9th National Rural Health Conference
  • Publisher: National Rural Health Alliance
  • Published Location: Deakin West, ACT
  • Country: Australia

The issues surrounding climate change and its implications for human health are complex. This presentation considers climate, climate change, the possible relationships to drought and the prospects for future climatic conditions in Australia, and their likely effects on public health. The paper provides some background information about the process of global warming, and describes future scenarios, each dependent on factors such as population growth, economic activity and choices in technology. It argues that we must devise ways of adapting to or lessening adverse impacts of climate change in order to lessen the risks to health. The paper discusses the direct impacts of extreme weather events, changes to biophysical and ecological processes, patterns of land use and other factors that cause social, economic and demographic disruptions. The effects of heat related deaths, the range and seasonality of infectious diseases, changes in food production (affecting choices, nutrition and health) are discussed and the effects of prolonged drought are highlighted, together with related adverse health impacts (including mental health and child emotional development) from environmental changes and associated economic and social stresses.

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