Child using inhaler

In the two years that have passed since Yale Climate Connections first highlighted the growing collection of books and reports that address the health impacts of climate change, evidence for the changing climate has compounded. Witness this summer’s records for June (hottest June) and July (hottest month ever). Fortunately, however, lessons are being learned. Despite temperatures that exceeded those during the 2003 heatwave that claimed nearly 15,000 lives, France’s public health service was ready for the 2019 heatwaves. The other lesson learned since 2017: the interactions between air pollution and climate change are more complex – and dangerous – than previously thought. It’s time, then, for an updated list.

As always, the descriptions are drawn or adapted from copy provided by the publishers. When two dates of publication are provided, the second is the date for the paperback edition.


Book coverEnviromedics: The Impact of Climate Change on Human Health, by Jay Lemery, MD, and Paul Auerbach, MD. (Rowman and Littlefield 2017, 180 pages, $35.00)

The global environment is under massive stress from centuries of human industrialization. The projections regarding climate change for the next century and beyond are grim. The impacts on human health could be severe. By weighing in from a physician’s perspective, Jay Lemery and Paul Auerbach clarify the science, dispel the myths, and help readers understand the threats of climate change to human health. No better argument exists for persuading people to care about climate change than a close look at its impacts on our physical and emotional well-being. The need has never been greater for the grounded, informative, and accessible discussion provided by this groundbreaking book.

Book coverClimate Change and the People’s Health, by Sharon Friel (Oxford University Press 2019, 232 pages, $29.95)

Climate Change and the People’s Health offers an ambitious new framework for understanding how our planet’s two greatest existential threats comingle, complement, and amplify one another – and what can be done to mitigate future harm. It makes three arguments: (1) Climate change interacts with the social determinants of health and exacerbates existing health inequities; (2) A “consumptagenic system” – a network of policies, processes, governance and modes of under-standing – fuels unhealthy and environmentally destructive production and consumption; (3) To move from denial and inertia toward effective mobilization will require economic, social, and policy interventions. Climate change and social inequity, we must realize, are indelibly linked.

Book coverPlanetary Health: Human Health in an Era of Global Environmental Change, by Jennifer Cole (CABI 2019, 168 pages, $50.00 paperback)

Planetary Health – the idea that human health and the health of the environment are inextricably linked – encourages the preservation and sustainability of natural systems for the benefit of human health. Drawing from disciplines such as public health, environmental science, evolutionary anthropology, welfare economics, geography, policy and organizational theory, it addresses the challenges of the modern world, where human health and well-being is threatened by increasing pollution and climate change. Planetary Health covers key concepts in this new field, including natural capital, ecological resilience, evolutionary biology, One Earth, and transhumanism. Case studies set out the links between human health and environmental change.

Book coverOne Planet, One Health, edited by Merrilyn Walton (Sydney University Press 2019, 350 pages, $40.00 paperback)

With experience in eco-health methods, the contributors to One Planet, One Health postulate that the maintenance and restoration of ecosystem resilience should be a core priority in aid and development programs, and carried out in partnership with local communities. One Planet, One Health offers an integrated approach to improving the health of the planet and its inhabitants. With chapters on ethics, research and governance, as well as case studies on government and international aid-agency responses to illustrate successes and failures, the book aims to help scholars, governments and nongovernmental organizations understand the benefits of focusing on the interdependence of human and animal health, food, water security and land care.

Book coverClimate Change and Air Pollution: The Impact on Human Health in Developed and Developing Countries, edited by Rais Aktar and Cosimo Palagiano (Springer Publishing 2018, 430 pages, $179.00 paperback)

As stressed by the IPCC, “pollen, smoke and ozone levels are likely to increase in a warming world, affecting the health of residents of major cities.” The World Health Organization finds that air pollution is the world’s greatest environmental health risk, killing 7 million people in 2014 (compared to 0.4 million deaths due to malaria). Deteriorating air quality will most affect the elderly, children, people with chronic ill-health and expectant mothers. Climate Change and Air Pollution reviews climate-change, air-pollution and human-health scenarios from both industrialized and developing countries. After analyzing variations in climate data over recent decades, the authors consider possible effects of climate change on air pollution and health.

Book coverClimate Information for Public Health Action, edited by Madeleine C. Thomson and Simon J. Mason (Routledge/Earthscan 2019, 244 pages, $39.95 paperback*)

Climate Information for Public Health Action is based on the premise that climate knowledge and information can help protect the public from climate-sensitive health risks. With a focus on infectious disease, hydro-meteorological disasters, and nutrition, the book explores why, when and how historical, current and future data on climate can be incorporated into health decision-making. Created as a collaborative effort between climate and health experts, this book targets the public health community, as well as development practitioners and policy-makers. It may also guide climate experts in the development of climate services tailored to health needs. Written in an accessible style, it will also be a valuable resource for students and academics.

*A free download of the entire book is available here.

Book coverBreathtaking: Asthma Care in a Time of Climate Change, by Alison Kenner (University of Minnesota Press 2018, 248 pages, $24.95 paperback)

Asthma is not a new problem, but today the disease is being reshaped by changing ecologies, healthcare systems, medical sciences, and built environments. Breathtaking provides a sweeping ethnographic account of asthma’s many dimensions through the lived experiences of people who suffer from disordered breathing, as well as by considering their support networks, from secondary school teachers and coaches, to breathing educators and new smartphone applications designed for asthma control. Kenner describes the structural conditions and material rhythms that shape everyday breathing and chronic disease. She argues that new modes of care practices are needed to address asthma as a critical public health issue in the time of climate change.

Book coverThe Invisible Killer: The Rising Global Threat of Air Pollution – and How We Can Fight Back, by Gary Fuller (Melville House 2019, 320 pages, $26.99*)

A shocking realization came out of the world-wide diesel fuel scandal, wherein car manufacturers concealed how highly polluting diesel fuel was: Air pollution is much, much worse than we knew. The Invisible Killer introduces the incredible individuals whose ground-breaking research paved the way to today’s new understanding of air pollution. Gary Fuller’s global story covers London’s Great Smog, Norway’s acid rain, Los Angeles’s traffic problems, and wood burning in New Zealand. Fuller argues that the only way to alter the future course of our planet and improve collective global health is for city and national governments to stop ignoring evidence and take action, making polluters bear the full cost of the harm that they do.

*In anticipation of U.S. paperback, the hardcover edition has been remaindered at $6.00/copy.

Book coverChoked: Life and Breath in an Age of Pollution, by Beth Gardner (University of Chicago Press 2019, 312 pages, $27.50)

Air pollution prematurely kills seven million people every year, including more than one hundred thousand Americans. It is strongly linked to strokes, heart attacks, many kinds of cancer, dementia, and premature births. In Choked, Beth Gardiner take readers from the halls of power in Washington to the diesel-fogged London streets she walks with her daughter to Poland’s coal heartland and India’s gasping capital. Alive with powerful voices and personalities, Choked exposes the political decisions and economic forces that have kept so many of us breathing dirty air. Nevertheless, Gardiner shows us that we hold the power to build a cleaner, healthier future, one in which breathing, life’s most basic function, no longer carries a hidden danger.

Book coverExtreme Weather Events and Human Health, edited by Rais Akhtar (Springer Publishing 2020*, 412 pages, $159.99)

It has been estimated that in 2017 natural disasters and climate change resulted in economic losses of 309 billion U.S. dollars. Scientists also predict that if nothing is done to curb the effects of climate change, in Europe the death toll due to weather disasters could rise 50-fold by the end of the 21st century, with extreme heat alone causing more than 150,000 deaths a year. Covering all continents, Extreme Weather Events and Human Health describes the impact of extreme weather conditions such as flash floods, heatwaves, cold waves, droughts, forest fires, strong winds and storms in both developing and developed countries. The contributing authors also investigate the spread of diseases and the risk to food security caused by drought and flooding.

*The book will be released in November 2019.

Book coverLyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change, by Mary Beth Pfeiffer (Island Press 2018, 304 pages, $28.00)

The first epidemic to emerge in the era of climate change, Lyme disease infects half a million people in the U.S. and Europe each year, and untold multitudes in Canada, China, Russia, and Australia. Mary Beth Pfeiffer shows how we have contributed to this growing menace, and how modern medicine has underestimated its danger. She tells the heart-rending stories of families destroyed by a single tick bite, of children disabled, and of one woman’s tragic choice after an exhaustive search for a cure. Pfeiffer also warns of the emergence of other tick-borne illnesses that make Lyme more difficult to treat and pose their own grave risks. Lyme makes a powerful case for action to fight ticks, heal patients, and recognize humanity’s role in a modern scourge.

Book coverThis Is the Way the World Ends: How Droughts and Die-offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America, by Jeff Nesbit (Macmillan 2018/2019, 336 pages, $18.00 paperback)

Longer droughts in the Middle East. Growing desertification in China and Africa. The monsoon season shrinking in India. Amped-up heat waves in Australia. More intense hurricanes reaching America. Water wars in the Horn of Africa. Rebellions, refugees and starving children across the globe. These are not disconnected events. These are the pieces of a larger puzzle that environmental expert Jeff Nesbit puts together. Unless we start addressing the causes of climate change and stop simply navigating its effects, we will be facing a series of unstoppable catastrophes by the time our preschoolers graduate from college. In This Is the Way the World Ends, Nesbit provides a clear blueprint for real-time, workable solutions we can tackle together.

Three NGO reports, two published just this year, complement the book titles provided above: Conveying the Human Implications of Climate Change (Center for Climate Change Communication 2016), The State of Climate Adaptation in Public Health (EcoAdapt 2019), and Heatwave Guide for Cities (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent 2019). All three of these reports can be downloaded for free at the webpages to which the embedded links lead.

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