University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Health Effects of Climate Destabilization: Understanding the Problem

Bruce Krawisz, MD

WMJ. 2020,119(2):132-138.

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Climate change is a public health emergency. Evidence that a mass extinction is underway, that global ecosystem productivity is deteriorating, and that the biosphere is damaged by human actions continues to accumulate. This review aims to provide a summary of the health consequences of climate destabilization, which include heat-related illness and death, wildfires with air pollution, floods, droughts, water scarcity, increased frequency of intense storms, reduction in agricultural and seafood harvests, spread of infectious diseases, and higher rates of mental illness.

Author Affiliations: Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, Marshfield, Wis (Krawisz).
Corresponding Author: Bruce Krawisz, MD, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, 1000 N Oak Ave, Marshfield, WI 54449; email
Acknowledgements: The author wishes to thank the following: Joseph Mazza, MD, for writing assistance and helpful advice; Marie Fleisner for assistance in preparing the final manuscript and for creating the figure; Emily Andreae, PhD, and Jennifer King, PhD, for critically reading the manuscript and providing excellent suggestions; Thomas Ackerman, PhD, for answering questions about atmospheric physics and for providing references; Maia McGuire, PhD, for answering questions about ocean acidification and for providing references; Paul J. Fischer, PhD, for explaining the solubility of molecular oxygen and carbon dioxide in ocean water; Kimberly Rand for essential help searching the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website; and William F. Tracy, PhD, for explaining C3/C4 photosynthesis and heat effects on plant fertilization.
Funding/Support: None declared.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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