Climate change: a brief overview of the science and health impacts for Australia

Elizabeth G Hanna and Lachlan J McIver
Med J Aust 2018; 208 (7): . || doi: 10.5694/mja17.00640
Published online: 9 April 2018



  • The scientific relationship between atmospheric CO2 and global temperatures has been understood for over a century.
  • Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 due to burning of fossil fuels have contributed to 75% of the observed 1°C rise in global temperatures since the start of the industrial era (about 1750).
  • Global warming is associated with intensifying climatic extremes and disruption to human society and human health.
  • Mitigation is vital for human health as continued current emission rates are likely to lead to 4°C of warming by 2100.
  • Further escalation of Australia’s hot and erratic climate will lead to more extreme climate-related disasters of heatwaves, droughts, fires and storms, as well as shifts in disease burdens.


  • Elizabeth G Hanna1
  • Lachlan J McIver2

  • 1 Fenner School of Environment and Society and Climate Change Institute, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT
  • 2 Médecins Sans Frontières, Geneva, Switzerland


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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