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Clinician's Corner
January 7, 2004

Health Effects of Climate Change

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, England (Dr Haines); Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Md (Dr Patz).


Contempo Updates Section Editor: Sarah Pressman Lovinger, MD, Fishbein Fellow.

JAMA. 2004;291(1):99-103. doi:10.1001/jama.291.1.99

Humans are now making unprecedented changes to the global environment. Economic development has been fostered by the use of fossil fuels but the accompanying accumulation of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide and methane, has implications for the world's climate (Box).1 Since the 1850s when temperature records began, the world has warmed by approximately 0.6°C, largely in the last 3 decades. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects an increase of between 1.8°C and 5.8°C and an increase in sea levels between 9 and 88 cm during the next century.1 Warming is likely to be greater at the poles than at the equator. The residence time in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide exceeds 100 years; therefore, our actions affect the prospects of future generations.

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