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Books, Journals, New Media
August 6, 2003

Environmental HealthEnvironmental Health

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2003;290(5):674. doi:10.1001/jama.290.5.674-a

Life Support: The Environment and Human Health, a new book edited by Michael McCally, gathers scientific information on the effects of the global environmental crisis on human health. A sequel to the 1993 Critical Condition, now out of print, Life Support presents the evidence that humans, through our own actions, now threaten the global environment that we all need to survive.

Each chapter begins with brief background on an issue, including historical perspectives, if relevant. Most important, each chapter ends with a thoughtful prescription to address the problem. The chapter by Paul Epstein and colleagues on global climate change is particularly useful. Factors in global climate change include increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, more frequent extremes of weather, and accelerated melting of polar and Greenland ice resulting in rising seas. The resulting threats to health include heat and cold-related illness and death, altered geographic range of vector-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and malaria, and increases in asthma, malnutrition, and infectious diseases. The chapter on world population presents a balanced discussion of the projections for population stabilization over the next century.