Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1997

Publication Citation

5 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 99 (1997)


In this article, Professor Dale Jamieson examines the relationship between

climate change and public health from an ethical perspective. He begins by

exploring the link between global environmental change and public health and

concludes that global warming poses a serious potential threat to human

health. Professor Jamieson then questions why the potential health effects of

climate change have received so much attention when the other ramifications

of climate change have been left unaddressed He argues that the combination

of several factors has brought the issue of potential health effects to the

forefront of the climate change debate. One such factor is the championing

of the issue by "issue entrepreneurs ", small groups of people who employ

diverse forms of institutional authority to promote a specific issue. Another

contributing factor is an effort to engage the general public in the issue of

global change. The potential health effects of climate change have also been

brought to the forefront by the rise of AIDS, a disease which has proven that

the threat of infectious disease continues to affect public health. Finally, a

new understanding of microbes and a new motivation for development aid

have brought the potential health effects of climate change to public attention.

Professor Jamieson then examines both the direct and indirect health

effects of climate change. He analyzes whether the hypothesized effects of

climate change are currently observable and concludes that while recent

outbreaks of infectious disease seem to suggest an affirmative answer,

mortality and morbidity statistics indicate that the health effects of climate

change have yet to be felt. He states that the future impact of the health effects

of climate change will depend centrally on the social, political, and economic

approaches adopted today.