Changing Planet, Changing Health

How the Climate Crisis Threatens Our Health and What We Can Do about It

Paul R. Epstein, MD, and Dan Ferber
Foreword by Jeffrey Sachs

University of California Press, April 2011

Note: Dr. Paul Epstein, passed away in November 2011. Paul was a giant in the global health community, one of the first to warn about the threats that global environmental change, and he contributed mightily to the search for practical solutions to protect the health of people worldwide. For more information on Changing Planet, Changing Health, please see the book website, changingplanetchanginghealth.com. 

Climate change is now doing far more damage than marooning polar bears on melting chunks of ice—it is damaging the health of people around the world. Brilliantly connecting stories of real people with cutting edge scientific and medical information, Changing Planet, Changing Health brings us to places like Mozambique, Honduras, and the United States for an eye-opening on-the-ground investigation of how climate change is altering patterns of disease. Written by a physician and world expert on climate and health and an award-winning science journalist, the book reveals the surprising links between global warming and cholera, malaria, lyme disease, asthma, and other health threats. In clear, accessible language, it offers a broad picture of the state of climate change today with informative discussions of topics including Climategate, cap-and-trade proposals, and the relationship between free markets and the climate crisis. Most importantly, Changing Planet, Changing Health delivers a suite of innovative solutions for shaping a healthy and enlightened global economic order for the twenty-first century.

Early reviews:

“Changing Planet, Changing Health is a landmark book that will raise our consciousness about how we should respond to a growing emergency and save lives. Dr. Paul Epstein and journalist Dan Ferber offer stunning revelations about the ways that the climate crisis is jeopardizing food security and accessibility to drinking water while propelling disease vectors that are threatening public health worldwide. This book, the first to solely focus on the connection between the climate crisis and its damaging health effects, sounds a clarion call that shows how we can heal the earth, and ourselves.”
Former Vice President Al Gore

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“Climate change isn't just "inconvenient” -- it kills. Bravo to Paul Epstein and Dan Ferber for laying out a clear explication. Deny the heat wave around you? OK, but brace yourself for the hospital bills.”

Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize winning writer and author of The Coming Plague.

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 “Climate change has brought a new imperative to global health efforts worldwide as the ‘changing planet’ both contributes to the spread of disease and worsens existing inequities. We must be ambitious in our response and heed the personal, political, economic, and institutional advice so keenly prescribed here by Paul Epstein and Dan Ferber. Our collective failure to intervene, or even to understand, portends disaster. But this volume also shows us just how much we can do to slow or arrest these adverse trends.”

Paul Farmer, MD, author of Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor and Co-founder, Partners in Health

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"You'll never find a clearer or smarter explanation of one of the toughest problems the world faces as the Holocene ebbs and the warming era begins."

Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

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"As compelling as a detective novel, Changing Planet, Changing Health reveals the important - and often unnerving -  links between climate and survival in a world in a world in which we are watching our  known environment slip away. This is a vital story, and authors Paul Epstein and Dan Ferber have told it beautifully, so that their exploration of human behavior and consequences is wonderfully readable as well as being wonderfully smart."

Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

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“This valuable and insightful book provides, in highly readable form, the most basic reason for concern over human source change in the climate system – the impact this change has on our health.”

Paul Andrew Mayewski, Director, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine

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“Changing Planet, Changing Health is an illuminating, important, and deeply sobering book.”

Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change.

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“Paul Epstein has long been at the forefront in alerting the public and our leaders on the many ways our lives and health are threatened by climate change. He and journalist Dan Ferber have now written the book on the health effects of global warming. . . . Changing Planet, Changing Health is a vivid reminder of the urgency of the need for action. It can only be hoped that this sweeping and articulate book will trigger a renewed focus on this crucial challenge at a time when so many are distracted by other events”

Paul Volberding, MD, Professor and Vice Chair, UCSF Department of Medicine