Climate change and human health: Impacts, vulnerability and public health

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, WC1E 7HT London, UK.
Public Health (Impact Factor: 1.48). 08/2006; 120(7):585-96. DOI: 10.1016/j.puhe.2006.01.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT It is now widely accepted that climate change is occurring as a result of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere arising from the combustion of fossil fuels. Climate change may affect health through a range of pathways, for example as a result of increased frequency and intensity of heat waves, reduction in cold related deaths, increased floods and droughts, changes in the distribution of vector-borne diseases and effects on the risk of disasters and malnutrition. The overall balance of effects on health is likely to be negative and populations in low-income countries are likely to be particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects. The experience of the 2003 heat wave in Europe shows that high-income countries may also be adversely affected. Adaptation to climate change requires public health strategies and improved surveillance. Mitigation of climate change by reducing the use of fossil fuels and increasing a number of uses of the renewable energy technologies should improve health in the near-term by reducing exposure to air pollution.

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    ABSTRACT: This study focuses on the benefits of street greenery for creating thermally comfortable streetscapes in moderate climates. It reports on investigations on the impact of street greenery on outdoor thermal comfort from a physical and psychological perspective. For this purpose, we examined nine streets with comparable geometric configurations, but varying amount of street greenery (street trees, front gardens) in the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands. Mobile micrometeorological measurements including air temperature (Ta), solar and thermal radiation were performed, enabling the calculation of mean radiant temperature (Tmrt). Additionally, semi-structured interviews with pedestrians about their momentary and long-term perceived thermal comfort and their esthetical appreciation of the green street design were conducted. Measurements showed a clear impact (p = 0.0001) of street greenery on thermal comfort through tree shading: 10% tree crown cover within a street canyon lowered street averaged Tmrt about 1 K. In contrast, our results did not show an influence of street greenery on street averaged Ta. Interview results indicated that momentary perceived thermal comfort tended to be related to the amount of street greenery. However, the results were not statistically significant. Related to long-term perceived thermal comfort respondents were hardly consciously aware of influences by street greenery. Yet, people significantly (p < 0.001) valued the presence of street greenery in esthetic terms. In conclusion, street greenery forms a convenient adaptive strategy to create thermally comfortable and attractive living environments. Our results clearly indicate that both physical and psychological aspects of thermal comfort have to be considered in urban design processes.
    Landscape and Urban Planning 03/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.02.009 · 2.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Green infrastructure can improve thermal comfort in outdoor urban spaces in moderate climates. The impact of green spaces on thermal comfort is often exclusively investigated through meteorological variables and human-biometeorological indices. Yet, studies on perceived thermal comfort are scarce. As thermal comfort is a property of human perception of the thermal environment, this knowledge is crucial for understanding the relationship between green spaces and thermal comfort. We investigated inhabitants' long-term perception of thermal comfort on warm summer days in three Dutch cities by means of questionnaires. Additionally, we examined the daytime cooling effect of green spaces in Utrecht, in order to find physical evidence to verify thermal comfort perception. To this end we used bicycles equipped with micrometeorological sensors. We compared thermal conditions of 13 parks with thermal conditions in the city centre and in the open grassland outside the city. And we analysed dependences between thermal conditions and spatial variables of parks (size, tree canopy, upwind vegetation cover). Our results demonstrate that green infrastructure improves generally perceived thermal comfort. People evaluated green urban spaces as the most thermally comfortable spaces which was in line with the physical thermal investigations. Physiological equivalent temperature (PET) in parks on average was 1.9 K lower than in the city centre and 5 K lower than in the surrounding grasslands during the hottest period of the day. Thermal variance between parks was significantly influenced by tree canopy cover (mean radiant temperature p ¼ 0.00005) and upwind vegetation cover (air temperature p ¼ 0.013), not significantly for park size.
    Building and Environment 12/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.buildenv.2014.05.013 · 2.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The health impacts of climate change are an issue of growing concern in the Pacific region. Prior to 2010, no formal, structured, evidence-based approach had been used to identify the most significant health risks posed by climate change in Pacific island countries. During 2010 and 2011, the World Health Organization supported the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in performing a climate change and health vulnerability and adaptation assessment. This paper summarizes the priority climate-sensitive health risks in FSM, with a focus on diarrheal disease, its link with climatic variables and the implications of climate change. The vulnerability and adaptation assessment process included a review of the literature, extensive stakeholder consultations, ranking of climate-sensitive health risks, and analysis of the available long-term data on climate and climate-sensitive infectious diseases in FSM, which involved examination of health information data from the four state hospitals in FSM between 2000 and 2010; along with each state's rainfall, temperature and El Niño-Southern Oscillation data. Generalized linear Poisson regression models were used to demonstrate associations between monthly climate variables and cases of climate-sensitive diseases at differing temporal lags. Infectious diseases were among the highest priority climate-sensitive health risks identified in FSM, particularly diarrheal diseases, vector-borne diseases and leptospirosis. Correlation with climate data demonstrated significant associations between monthly maximum temperature and monthly outpatient cases of diarrheal disease in Pohnpei and Kosrae at a lag of one month and 0 to 3 months, respectively; no such associations were observed in Chuuk or Yap. Significant correlations between disease incidence and El Niño-Southern Oscillation cycles were demonstrated in Kosrae state. Analysis of the available data demonstrated significant associations between climate variables and climate-sensitive infectious diseases. This information should prove useful in implementing health system and community adaptation strategies to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change on health in FSM.
    Tropical Medicine and Health 03/2015; 43(1):29-40. DOI:10.2149/tmh.2014-17


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Jan 14, 2015