Rising Temperatures, Human Health, and the Role of Adaptation

TitleRising Temperatures, Human Health, and the Role of Adaptation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsHondula DM, Balling RC, Vanos JK, Georgescu M
Date PublishedSeptember 01
Type of Articlejournal article
ISBN Number2198-6061

There is near consensus in the scientific community that humans will experience higher future temperatures due to the ongoing accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The human response to this climatic change, particularly if accompanied by a surge in extreme heat events, is a key topic being addressed by scientists across many disciplines. In this article, we review recent (2012–2015) research on human health impacts of observed and projected increases in summer temperature. We find that studies based on projected changes in climate indicate substantial increases in heat-related mortality and morbidity in the future, while observational studies based on historical climate and health records show a decrease in negative impacts during recent warming. The discrepancy between the two groups of studies generally involves how well and how quickly humans can adapt to changes in climate via physiological, behavioral, infrastructural, and/or technological adaptation, and how such adaptation is quantified.

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