The last Summer Olympics? Climate change, health, and work outdoors

| August 15, 2016 | Leave a Comment

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Date of Publication: August 13, 2016

Year of Publication: 2016

Publisher: Elsevier Limited

Author(s): Kirk R Smith, Alistair Woodward, Bruno Lemke, Matthias Otto, Cindy J Chang, Anna A Mance, John Balmes, Tord Kjellstrom

Journal: The Lancet

Volume: 388

Pages: 642-644

Categories: , ,

How will projected changes in climate affect our ability to safely work outside? Kirk Smith et al. explore this question through the timely case of the Summer Olympics.


INTRODUCTION: Climate change threatens human health in many ways, through heat waves, extreme weather events, and shifts in disease vectors, as well as economic and social stresses on populations living in or trying to escape areas affected by seawater intrusion, drought, lower agricultural productivity, and floods. In the short term, most of these impacts could be substantially ameliorated by actions to reduce background disease risks and other known causes of vulnerability. The world beyond 2050 poses increasingly difficult challenges, not only because of the inherent uncertainties in long-term predictions, but because the extent and speed of change might exceed society’s ability to adapt. In addition, the risk of so-called pernicious impacts— those that require trade-offs between what is generally assumed and valued as part of society and what is healthy—will rise.

Perhaps the most pernicious of these impacts is the growing expansion in season and geography of outdoor conditions (or unprotected indoor spaces) in which heavy work is no longer safe.

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