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Climate Change and Health: From Science to Practice

Originally presented on . Encore presentation on .

Changes occurring in the world’s climate pose significant threats to human health and wellbeing and will have even greater impacts in the future. These threats are wide-ranging, including decreased air quality and increases in extreme weather events, wildfire, and illnesses transmitted by water, and disease-carriers, such as mosquitoes and ticks. Although scientific understanding of the effects of climate change is still emerging, there is considerable evidence to support preparing for potential health risks.

Studies have shown that adverse climate events are increasing in both intensity and frequency, contributing to rising rates of illness as well as mortality. Elevated temperatures in the 2003 European heat wave resulted in over 30,000 confirmed heat-related deaths & 70,000 excess deaths from all causes. Flooding has caused billions of dollars of damage and significant loss of life. The populations most vulnerable—children, elderly people, those living in poverty, people living in certain geographic areas and people with underlying health conditions—are at even greater health risk from climate change.

Planning for climate change provides opportunities to protect human health and well-being across many sectors. Early public health action is essential to ensuring that systems are in place to protect people from the impacts of climate change. As the nation’s public health agency, CDC is using its prevention expertise to help states and cities investigate, prepare for, and respond to the health effects of climate change.

This session of Grand Rounds explored the wide-ranging health impact of our changing climate and discussed some of the strategies, programs and partnerships currently being used to confront the challenges associated with global climate change.

Introduction to Encore Presentation, 2015

Welcome to Climate Change and Health – From Science to Practice

United States Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, welcomes you to the encore presentation of Climate Change and Health – From Science to Practice. Climate change poses a serious, immediate and global threat to human health and the responsibility for taking action to address this threat rests with every person, every community, every leader and every government around the world. Addressing climate change is a health issue and a moral issue and each of us has a responsibility to do what we can, as much as we can and for as long as we can.

Beyond the Data (2015 update)

Dr. John Iskander and Dr. George Luber revisit their discussion on climate change and its impact on human health to discuss some of the important new scientific findings that have taken place.

Since the session first aired in December of 2014:

  • 2014 has been confirmed as the hottest year on record,
  • Extreme climate events are occurring more frequently and
  • Communities are facing heightened health risks due to drought.
Beyond the Data (2014)

Dr. John Iskander and Dr. George Luber discuss some of the challenges associated with global climate change. The health impact of the changing climate is wide-ranging, including:

  • Increased frequency and severity of chronic disease and infectious disease cases
  • Negative impact on mental health and sense of well-being,
  • Exposure to extreme weather and health concerns in areas that were previously unaffected.

Public health agencies must:

  • Use their prevention expertise to assess the vulnerability of communities,
  • Prepare for potential negative health outcomes before they occur,
  • Work together at various levels to protect human health and well-being.
Presented By
George Luber, PhD
Associate Director for Climate Change and Health Program, Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects
National Center for Environmental Health, CDC
Kim Knowlton, DrPH, MS
Senior Scientist and Co-Deputy Director, Health and Environment Program
Natural Resources Defense Council
C. Ben Beard, PhD, MS
Chief, Bacterial Diseases Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC
Facilitated By
John Iskander, MD, MPH
Scientific Director
Phoebe Thorpe, MD, MPH
Deputy Scientific Director
Susan Laird, MSN, RN
Communications Director
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