by Jeni Miller, PhD, May 16, 2013

Today in California, State Senator Fran Pavley chaired a hearing for the state’s Senate Select Committee on Climate Change and AB 32 Implementation, to assess California’s vulnerabilities to climate change as well as the state’s progress on its 2006 climate change legislation. Public Health Institute’s Linda Rudolph, M.D., MPH, testified on the public health risks of climate change in California. Other presenters included Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird, California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols, and Professor Rachel Morello-Frosch from the University of California-Berkeley’s School of Public Health. The hearing looked at rising concerns about extreme weather and short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon. 

Formerly deputy director of the California Department of Public Health's Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Public Health, Dr. Rudolph highlighted some of the many ways that climate change threatens health, and called for strong action on climate. “Climate change is the greatest public health challenge of the 21st century,” said Rudolph. “We can do something about it. Many strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or adapt to climate change have huge health co-benefits. But, our window of opportunity for averting catastrophic climate change is closing.”

Rudolph went on to say that, “the health care cost impacts of climate change are enormous. A recent study found that just six climate-related extreme weather events – three of which occurred in California –generated health costs of over $14 billion.” She presented numerous examples of ways to make our communities more climate resilient, including strategies for reducing urban heat islands with cool roofs, urban greening, and cool and permeable pavements. And Rudolph emphasized that taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions offers direct and indirect co-benefits to health.

More information about today’s hearing, including background materials and Dr. Rudolph’s presentation slides, can be found on the Senate Select Committee’s hearings webpage, and on Senator Pavley’s website.

 

 

 

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by Charlotta Chan, MEM, May 14, 2013

Did you know?...By taking action on climate change,  you are protecting human health.

Two fact sheets were developed by our team at ClimateHealthConnect to explain the synergies in climate and health work, give a sense of urgency to the issue, and elaborate on ways to integrate health into climate work, and climate into health work.

These resources are posted on our website, at: http://climatehealthconnect.org/resource/climate-health-fact-sheet-public-health-climate-change-advocates

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by Jeni Miller, PhD, May 07, 2013

Wildfire in CaliforniaThis past week wildfires torched 28,000 acres in California, at one point threatening 4,000 homes in Ventura County before fire crews were able to begin to rein them in. Wood smoke contains particulate matter and toxins, posing greatest danger to people with respiratory issues and heart disease. The elderly as well as children, whose lungs are still developing, are also especially vulnerable when wildfires break out, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Wildfires displace families from their homes. Excessive fires alter ecosystems, destabilizing the balance of flora and fauna. And the cost of fighting increasing fires, just like the cost of recovery from extreme storms, sucks up resources that could go to meet other public needs.

To date this year there have been roughly 200 more wildfires than average in California, a state that typically experiences fire threat in the fall, after the dry summer season. As Ventura County fire spokesman Tom Kruschke remarked, "This is a very, very strange weather pattern for this time of year." A number of reports have linked climate change to more frequent wildfires, and predict more fires, longer wildfire seasons, and vast increases in the numbers of acres burned.

The recent California wildfires are one more signal that the time to act on climate change is now. To protect our health, we must lean into the two challenges before us: prepare, putting systems in place to deal with increased wildfire threat and the many other effects of current climate change; and prevent, acting quickly, effectively, and significantly to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the problem. We have the capacity to take climate action and thereby protect human health. Do we have the will?

 

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by Cristina Tirado, PhD, April 23, 2013
 

Currently there are nearly one billion hungry people and 60 percent of chronically hungry are women and girls. Children and women's under-nutrition is the underlying cause of around 2.5 million deaths yearly and, in developing countries, one third of children under five are stunted and will never reach their full potential. Climate change acts as a multiplier of food and nutrition insecurity making it harder to secure the rights of the poor.  

The Irish Government and the Mary Robinson Foundation Climate Justice in partnership with the World Food Programme and other groups have organized a Conference on "Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice: A New Dialogue on Putting People at the Heart of Global Development". The conference aimed to open a dialogue on these challenges and to encourage innovative thinking and solutions to addressing hunger, nutrition and climate justice, in the context of the new international development agenda.

Former Vice President Al Gore was at the Conference and said that "giving a voice to grassroots is a wonderful contribution to this debate... climate justice is the right focus for this conversation. We have to make our stand. We have to stand for climate justice." 

Cristina Tirado participated in the Conference of Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice. The Public Health Institutes's document Enhancing Women’s Leadership to address the challenges of climate to nutrition security and health was shared with Al Gore who said that he will certainly read it. Al, we are looking for your feedback! 

 

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by Charlotta Chan, MEM, April 22, 2013

Creating a Climate for Health Pilot Projects

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Please visit our Featured Resource: http://climatehealthconnect.org/frequently-asked-questions-creating-climate-health-pilot-projects

If you have a question about the pilot projects, please e-mail your question to Anita Gardyne at anita@rampasthma.org. A team will review all questions and post answers on this website within 10 days of receiving the question. Thank you!

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by Erin Middleton, April 16, 2013

Over 500 people from across the nation convened at the inaugural National Adaptation Forum in Denver earlier this month. The conference was about how we, our communities and our nation can be prepared for climate change impacts, such as superstorms, droughts, insect vector born disease outbreaks, flooding and sea level rise.

Attendees represented various sectors – government agencies, universities, tribal nations, nonprofits – all focused on various aspects of climate adaptation. Sessions included equity in planning for adaptation, how to engage meaningfully in policy work, coastal adaptation strategies, climate change communication, tribal adaptation action planning, and rural climate adaptation for forests, water and people.

The challenges we face as a nation will require creative resourcing and thinking, and will depend on unlikely alliances between government agencies, tribes, communities, universities and scientists. To begin to build alliances and develop strong relationships, some useful tools were shared. One such tool, Climate Access, provides climate change practitioners the online space to share what works in terms of engaging the public.

Other resources include:

- The Climate Savvy Quick Course

Cal-Adapt Climate Tools for California

The Debunking Handbook – a summary of the literature that offers practical guidelines on the most effective ways of reducing the influence of myths

- The Alaskan Native Tribal Health Consortium

Another emergent theme from the Forum was that as a nation we don’t necessarily need to agree that climate change is happening or that it is manmade. What really matters is that we are prepared for the changes we are already witnessing. Superstorm Sandy was a watershed moment for many people. No one wants to be caught unprepared in the event of an extreme weather event. Also preparing for these events provides an opportunity to build more resilient, vibrant, inclusive communities.

Mitigating climate change and transitioning from a fossil-fuel based economy would have enormous public health benefits. There is a great opportunity for more discussion of this at future Adaptation Forums. Engaging the public health sector would not only expand the climate change discussion, but would also enhance the messaging around climate change to the public. For example, shutting down coal-fired power plants would not only reduce greenhouse gases but also improve the air quality in the surrounding area. Also, implementing more walkable cities would reduce transportation exhaust and improve people’s health by reducing time spent commuting in cars. The public may be much more receptive to these infrastructure changes if approached from a health angle, as oppose to an approach focusing on the need to reduce greenhouse gases.

Conference attendees, now known as the Adaption Vanguard, were energized by the all the excellent work happening across the country. If you’re doing work to build more resilient communities, and preparing for climate changes you are also a part of the Adaptation Vanguard. Please stay tuned to the National Adaptation Forum’s website (www.nationaladaptationforum.org/) for post conference notes and actions. The next Forum is scheduled for 2015 and we hope to see you there.

 

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