Global climate change (GCC) will have an enormous impact on public health in the 21st century. Evidence clearly implicates the use of fossil fuels and the resultant anthropogenic greenhouse gases as the major source of GCC.
This paper seeks to examine briefly the association between fossil fuels and GCC, the consequent environmental changes and the predicted public health effects.
Complex and interrelated climate changes are forecast to present immense challenges, including increased morbidity and mortality, arising from heatwaves, extreme weather events, infectious and non-communicable diseases. The subsequent health effects, modulated by socioeconomic determinants, will be distributed inequitably primarily to vulnerable populations, largely in the tropics. A response to GCC is urgently required, involving strategies to mitigate and adapt to GCC. Not only will general practitioners be managing health conditions caused by GCC, but they are also well placed in the community to advocate for GCC mitigation.