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Changing Planet, Changing Health    by Paul Epstein & Dan Ferber order for
Changing Planet, Changing Health
by Paul Epstein
Order:  USA  Can
University of California, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Global warming not only has serious consequences as weather patterns change and low lying coastal areas become threatened by rising ocean levels, but there is an impact on human health as well. In Changing Planet, Changing Health, Paul Epstein, MD, and Dan Ferber address the complex links between climate change and cholera, malaria, Lyme disease, asthma and other health threats.

The reader is taken to places where the effects of global warming can already be observed, not only through such indicators as extreme weather events, drought, flooding, and species decline but also by the resulting impacts on human health.

Epstein describes his own experiences treating choleras in Mozambique nearly a century after the disease was considered eradicated. He explains the history and ecology of the disease and how the bacterium that causes it thrives in warming ocean waters.

Other examples of this new health threat include Central America, Africa and North America. In the wake of Hurricane Mitch, which hit Honduras in 1988, the country's inhabitants were plagued by a myriad of diseases associated with contaminated water and the pathogens that proliferate therein. In the highlands of East Africa, once a refuge from disease-carrying mosquitoes, the population now faces a rising tide of malaria.

Lyme disease is on the increase in the United States and Canada as warmer winter temperatures allow its host insect, the black-legged tick, to expand its range northward. Also, in urban areas such as New York City and Chicago, there's an increase of allergies, asthma and other chronic lung conditions prompted by elevated greenhouse gas levels.

Research in agricultural areas suggests that crop pests are also likely to thrive in the higher carbon dioxide environment of the future, which will have consequences for maintaining an adequate world food supply.

Not only do Epstein and Ferber call attention to the health issues raised by climate change but they also suggest sustainable solutions that encompass such concerns as fuel shortages, rising food costs, and, of course, increased health problems.

'This book is about how climate change harms health, how it could devastate public health by midcentury, and how we must transform the way we power society and organize our economy to preserve a livable planet,' explains Epstein. 'In the last twenty years, the public debate on climate change has moved, slowly but inexorably, from denial and disinformation to acceptance, consensus, and the first small steps of the necessary societal transformation. This book will trace that journey and, I hope, further it.'

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