Linking Climate Change to Health Impacts
Climate change threatens human health in a variety of ways, including through increased heat waves, worsened air quality, changing ranges of food-, water-, and insect-borne diseases, and other effects. These impacts are already affecting the health of Americans and are expected to intensify as climate change progresses. To better understand and meet the public health challenges posed by climate change, USGCRP—through leadership by EPA, NOAA, and HHS’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH)—is developing a new assessment of the impacts of climate change on health in the United States. This assessment will synthesize current scientific literature—addressing the need for a more quantitative understanding of climate–health impacts, as called for by the President’s Climate Action Plan—and will support the sustained National Climate Assessment process (see Section 2.1.4).
The assessment report, entitled Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, is expected to be released in 2016. It is intended to inform public health officials, urban planners, decision makers, and other stakeholders at multiple levels of government who are interested in better understanding the risks climate change presents to human health. Though the report will not include policy recommendations, it will present authoritative scientific evidence that could be used to support adaptation and other strategic decisions in the public health sector. Improved understanding of health risks and uncertainties will support hazard identification and allow for better-coordinated responses to climate impacts.
Public input and engagement have informed and will continue to inform the assessment’s development. In spring 2014, a public call was issued for scientists and stakeholders to submit supporting literature, comment on the draft prospectus, and nominate report authors. In addition, USGCRP held a forum to gather input from subject matter experts and the public on proposed plans for scoping, drafting, and producing the report. The forum attracted over 100 participants representing government, academia, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations. Additional opportunities for input will occur during a public review of the draft report, to be held in 2015. To learn more, visit: http://go.usa.gov/8pYG