Climate change and human health

Climate change is the greatest challenge of the 21st century. It’s already causing rising sea levels, melting glaciers and permafrost, more frequent extreme events such as droughts, floods, and hurricanes. 

Mongolian annual mean air temperature has risen by 2.25 degrees Celsius in the last 79 years. The mean maximum temperature began to rise significantly after the year 1990, and the warmest year in the record was 2007. Also, the mean air temperature of 2019 was 1.2 degrees Celsius and it was the fifth warmest year in the record since 1940. In the future, long-term climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions will not only increase the temperature but also increase the risk of hazardous and disastrous weather and water. Furthermore, it has a significant impact on human health in direct and indirect ways.

A well-known fact that surface temperature rise bring some localized benefits, such as fewer winter deaths in temperate climates and increased food production in certain areas, but the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be overwhelmingly negative. Climate change affects social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food, and secure shelter.

New research from a team of Florida State University scientists analyzed weather patterns and average temperatures over 7,729 days using surface air temperatures from Jan. 1, 1997 to Feb. 28, 2018. Simultaneously, they conducted statistical analysis on influenza data sets from the four countries over the same period. Previous research suggested low temperatures and humidity in the winter create a favorable environment for transmitting the flu virus. Their recently published research showed that the spread of flu epidemic has been more closely tied to rapid weather variability, implying that the lapsed human immune system in winter caused by rapidly changing weather makes a person more susceptible to a flu virus.


Mongolian Academy of Medical Sciences and Public Health Institute of Mongolia analyzed how climate change affects the citizens' health in 2009. 

Summary of the research: 

  • Scientists found that respiratory disease continuously decreased from 1985 to 2007, because of the global warming. The trend grown back from 2017 is due to excessive dryness, dust, and air pollution.
  • Foreign researchers point out that the frequency of overheat are possible to increase cardiovascular disease. In our country, it is believed that overheat is one of the possible causes of the increased mortality rate from the disease. 
  • Scientists found that influenza, pneumonia, other respiratory diseases are more prevalent in the extremely dry and dry cool region, especially for children.
  • Beyond the natural effects, air quality indicators such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, flue gas, and fine particulate matters were also affecting the respiratory diseases of aged 0-16 year’s children the same as the adults.
  • There is some evidence of an increase of infection of tick-borne encephalitis by forest ticks and it is likely to be related to climate change to some extent. Figure 4.63 shows, the relationship between several occurrences of tick-borne encephalitis and drought index of early summer period (May-July) in the central region of the country where a dominant part of the Mongolian forest is located.


Thus, climate change is more likely to have a negative impact than a positive effect on human health. This even potentially may increase emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.