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Climate change and the health of the world

To look at how climate change will affect the health of the world’s population.

by James Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5


To look at how climate change will affect the health of the world’s population.

Preparation and materials


  1. It has been established that climate change has begun. Unless we all act decisively and quickly, our world will change for the worse. The likely increase in natural disasters and catastrophic events has been well documented in recent years. What scientists and governments have recently begun discussing is the more insidious danger to individual health posed by climate change.
  2. There are two main ways that our health is threatened by climate change. The first is the direct increase in disease-carrying insects, such as mosquitoes, owing to warmer weather. Mosquitoes are expected to move northwards, bringing malaria to temperate zones, normally free from such diseases. The second is the human factor: there will be less farmland owing to rising sea levels, and an increase in temperature will damage crops, reducing yield. This will lead to famines. Clean water will also be an issue, causing water-borne diseases such as cholera. The combined effect of these health issues and natural disasters will be an increase in migration and refugees. Refugee camps are not known to be sanitary places, and this will cause an increase in infection rates.
  3. It seems that, as with so many aspects of climate change, the world’s poor will suffer the most. It is a great unfairness that those holding all the power to stop climate change will also lose out the least when it does hit. Yet in December, at the Copenhagen summit, the world’s leaders will have a chance to turn the tide on this dangerous future. If we can begin to reduce our emissions then the worst effects can be avoided, and the world’s poor, who have been stolen from and abused repeatedly by the rich nations, can be spared further calamity.
  4. But getting there is going to be difficult. Recently, a 10:10 campaign was launched. This requires volunteers to reduce their emissions by 10 per cent of 2009 levels in 2010. Leading politicians have signed up to it, and it looks likely to be a success. Ultimately, although climate change is indeed bad for your health, you should be able to survive. Others may not be so lucky, and it is for them that we must act. If climate change is not stopped, then we will all have to deal with its consequences.
  5. Project the diagram.

    Let’s look at this together. You can follow the chain of events; although the warming effects will not impact on us primarily, we will be affected by the inevitable movement of peoples as their homelands become inhospitable. Food prices will rise, and life will become more difficult.

Time for reflection

The 10:10 challenge asks us all to sign up to cut our own carbon footprint by 10 per cent by 2010. That’s very soon.

What could that mean for you?

Taking the train rather than getting a car ride?

Turning off your computer or TV rather than leaving it on standby? 

Eating less meat – meat production is one of the worst producers of greenhouse gases.

Going on holiday by train? Cutting back on flying – that might mean persuading your family too. Spend a few moments thinking about how you could cut your carbon footprint.

You might like to sign up on the website too – that will probably mean you take it more seriously.



Less meat

Fewer car trips

Turning off the TV…

Reducing my footprint is going to be hard.

Help me to see where I can change my lifestyle, for the sake of other people

and the sake of the world.


Publication date: December 2009   (Vol.11 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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