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Special Issue "Climate Change and Human Health Impacts and Adaptation"

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A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2011)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Aline Chiabai

BC3 Basque Centre for Climate Change, Alameda Urquijo 4, 48008 Bilbao Bizkaia, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: economic valuation of climate change impacts on human health for policy guidance, including costs and benefits of adaptation policies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

There is a general agreement in the scientific community that climate has a significant impact on human health and well-being. Climate change is expected to affect frequency and severity of health risks, especially in developing countries and in the most vulnerable population, such as children, the elderly, people in poor health and the urban poor. Some impacts are expected to be favorable but most of them will be negative. There is still, however, considerable uncertainty as to the magnitude of the overall health impacts, both in physical and economic terms, due to the multifaceted interactions between climate and health, the complex dynamics of some illnesses (e.g. malaria), the existing reciprocal relationship between them and the many socio-economic factors which may contribute to health vulnerability. Further uncertainty is related to the socio-economic growth which is expected to decrease health vulnerability.

Population vulnerability can be reduced by putting in place adaptation strategies, which can be reactive and preventive, hard and soft, planned and autonomous, short- and long-term, all of them being complementary forms. Although past studies have put more emphasis on public hard adaptation, it is generally recognized that soft adaptation is more cost-effective, while avoiding massive investments. When assessing adaptation, a key issue is the complexity in distinguishing between development deficit and adaptation deficit, especially in developing countries.

This issue represents an effort to analyse the major health vulnerabilities to climate change, the related economic and social impacts, as well as the most cost-effective adaptation measures to reduce vulnerability under climate variability.

Dr. Aline Chiabai
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • climate change
  • human health
  • vulnerability
  • adaptation
  • health impacts development goals
  • cost-effectiveness
  • cost-benefit
  • economic assessment

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Valuation of Mortality Risk Attributable to Climate Change: Investigating the Effect of Survey Administration Modes on a VSL
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(12), 4760-4781; doi:10.3390/ijerph9124760
Received: 15 October 2012 / Revised: 8 November 2012 / Accepted: 13 December 2012 / Published: 18 December 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (256 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The health impact attributable to climate change has been identified as one of the priority areas for impact assessment. The main goal of this paper is to estimate the monetary value of one key health effect, which is premature mortality. Specifically, our goal
[...] Read more.
The health impact attributable to climate change has been identified as one of the priority areas for impact assessment. The main goal of this paper is to estimate the monetary value of one key health effect, which is premature mortality. Specifically, our goal is to derive the value of a statistical life from people’s willingness to pay for avoiding the risk of dying in one post-transition country in Europe, i.e., the Czech Republic. We carried out a series of conjoint choice experiments in order to value mortality risk reductions. We found the responses to the conjoint choice questions to be reasonable and consistent with the economic paradigm. The VSL is about EUR 2.4 million, and our estimate is comparable with the value of preventing a fatality as used in one of the integrated assessment models. To investigate whether carrying out the survey through the internet may violate the welfare estimate, we administered our questionnaire to two independent samples of respondents using two different modes of survey administration. The results show that the VSLs for the two groups of respondents are €2.25 and €2.55 million, and these figures are statistically indistinguishable. However, the key parameters of indirect utility between the two modes of survey administration are statistically different when specific subgroups of population, such as older respondents, are concerned. Based on this evidence, we conclude that properly designed and administered on-line surveys are a reliable method for administering questionnaires, even when the latter are cognitively challenging. However, attention should be paid to sampling and choice regarding the mode of survey administration if the preference of specific segments of the population is elicited. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health Impacts and Adaptation)
Open AccessArticle Human Health and Climate Change: Leverage Points for Adaptation in Urban Environments
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(6), 2134-2158; doi:10.3390/ijerph9062134
Received: 3 May 2012 / Accepted: 28 May 2012 / Published: 6 June 2012
Cited by 18 | PDF Full-text (722 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The design of adaptation strategies that promote urban health and well-being in the face of climate change requires an understanding of the feedback interactions that take place between the dynamical state of a city, the health of its people, and the state of
[...] Read more.
The design of adaptation strategies that promote urban health and well-being in the face of climate change requires an understanding of the feedback interactions that take place between the dynamical state of a city, the health of its people, and the state of the planet. Complexity, contingency and uncertainty combine to impede the growth of such systemic understandings. In this paper we suggest that the collaborative development of conceptual models can help a group to identify potential leverage points for effective adaptation. We describe a three-step procedure that leads from the development of a high-level system template, through the selection of a problem space that contains one or more of the group’s adaptive challenges, to a specific conceptual model of a sub-system of importance to the group. This procedure is illustrated by a case study of urban dwellers’ maladaptive dependence on private motor vehicles. We conclude that a system dynamics approach, revolving around the collaborative construction of a set of conceptual models, can help communities to improve their adaptive capacity, and so better meet the challenge of maintaining, and even improving, urban health in the face of climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health Impacts and Adaptation)
Open AccessArticle Governing for a Healthy Population: Towards an Understanding of How Decision-Making Will Determine Our Global Health in a Changing Climate
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(1), 55-72; doi:10.3390/ijerph9010055
Received: 8 December 2011 / Revised: 22 December 2011 / Accepted: 23 December 2011 / Published: 29 December 2011
Cited by 14 | PDF Full-text (593 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Enhancing the adaptive capacity of individuals, communities, institutions and nations is pivotal to protecting and improving human health and well-being in the face of systemic social inequity plus dangerous climate change. However, research on the determinants of adaptive capacity in relation to health,
[...] Read more.
Enhancing the adaptive capacity of individuals, communities, institutions and nations is pivotal to protecting and improving human health and well-being in the face of systemic social inequity plus dangerous climate change. However, research on the determinants of adaptive capacity in relation to health, particularly concerning the role of governance, is in its infancy. This paper highlights the intersections between global health, climate change and governance. It presents an overview of these key concerns, their relation to each other, and the potential that a greater understanding of governance may present opportunities to strengthen policy and action responses to the health effects of climate change. Important parallels between addressing health inequities and sustainable development practices in the face of global environmental change are also highlighted. We propose that governance can be investigated through two key lenses within the earth system governance theoretical framework; agency and architecture. These two governance concepts can be evaluated using methods of social network research and policy analysis using case studies and is the subject of further research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health Impacts and Adaptation)
Open AccessArticle Individual and Public-Program Adaptation: Coping with Heat Waves in Five Cities in Canada
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(12), 4679-4701; doi:10.3390/ijerph8124679
Received: 30 September 2011 / Revised: 17 November 2011 / Accepted: 1 December 2011 / Published: 16 December 2011
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (647 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Heat Alert and Response Systems (HARS) are currently undergoing testing and implementation in Canada. These programs seek to reduce the adverse health effects of heat waves on human health by issuing weather forecasts and warnings, informing individuals about possible protections from excessive heat,
[...] Read more.
Heat Alert and Response Systems (HARS) are currently undergoing testing and implementation in Canada. These programs seek to reduce the adverse health effects of heat waves on human health by issuing weather forecasts and warnings, informing individuals about possible protections from excessive heat, and providing such protections to vulnerable subpopulations and individuals at risk. For these programs to be designed effectively, it is important to know how individuals perceive the heat, what their experience with heat-related illness is, how they protect themselves from excessive heat, and how they acquire information about such protections. In September 2010, we conducted a survey of households in 5 cities in Canada to study these issues. At the time of the survey, these cities had not implemented heat outreach and response systems. The study results indicate that individuals’ recollections of recent heat wave events were generally accurate. About 21% of the sample reported feeling unwell during the most recent heat spell, but these illnesses were generally minor. Only in 25 cases out of 243, these illnesses were confirmed or diagnosed by a health care professional. The rate at which our respondents reported heat-related illnesses was higher among those with cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, was higher among younger respondents and bore no relationship with the availability of air conditioning at home. Most of the respondents indicated that they would not dismiss themselves as “not at risk” and that they would cope with excessive heat by staying in air conditioned environments and keeping well hydrated. Despite the absence of heat outreach and education programs in their city, our respondents at least a rough idea of how to take care of themselves. The presence of air conditioning and knowledge of cooling centers is location-specific, which provides opportunities for targeting HARS interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health Impacts and Adaptation)
Open AccessArticle Resilience to the Health Risks of Extreme Weather Events in a Changing Climate in the United States
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(12), 4582-4595; doi:10.3390/ijerph8124582
Received: 18 August 2011 / Revised: 11 November 2011 / Accepted: 2 December 2011 / Published: 8 December 2011
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (246 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Current public health strategies, policies, and measures are being modified to enhance current health protection to climate-sensitive health outcomes. These modifications are critical to decrease vulnerability to climate variability, but do not necessarily increase resilience to future (and different) weather patterns. Communities resilient
[...] Read more.
Current public health strategies, policies, and measures are being modified to enhance current health protection to climate-sensitive health outcomes. These modifications are critical to decrease vulnerability to climate variability, but do not necessarily increase resilience to future (and different) weather patterns. Communities resilient to the health risks of climate change anticipate risks; reduce vulnerability to those risks; prepare for and respond quickly and effectively to threats; and recover faster, with increased capacity to prepare for and respond to the next threat. Increasing resilience includes top-down (e.g., strengthening and maintaining disaster risk management programs) and bottom-up (e.g., increasing social capital) measures, and focuses not only on the risks presented by climate change but also on the underlying socioeconomic, geographic, and other vulnerabilities that affect the extent and magnitude of impacts. Three examples are discussed of public health programs designed for other purposes that provide opportunities for increasing the capacity of communities to avoid, prepare for, and effectively respond to the health risks of extreme weather and climate events. Incorporating elements of adaptive management into public health practice, including a strong and explicit focus on iteratively managing risks, will increase effective management of climate change risks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health Impacts and Adaptation)
Open AccessArticle The Costs of Climate Change: A Study of Cholera in Tanzania
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(12), 4386-4405; doi:10.3390/ijerph8124386
Received: 2 September 2011 / Revised: 22 November 2011 / Accepted: 23 November 2011 / Published: 28 November 2011
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (371 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Increased temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns as a result of climate change are widely recognized to entail potentially serious consequences for human health, including an increased risk of diarrheal diseases. This study integrates historical data on temperature and rainfall with the burden
[...] Read more.
Increased temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns as a result of climate change are widely recognized to entail potentially serious consequences for human health, including an increased risk of diarrheal diseases. This study integrates historical data on temperature and rainfall with the burden of disease from cholera in Tanzania and uses socioeconomic data to control for the impacts of general development on the risk of cholera. The results show a significant relationship between temperature and the incidence of cholera. For a 1 degree Celsius temperature increase the initial relative risk of cholera increases by 15 to 29 percent. Based on the modeling results, we project the number and costs of additional cases of cholera that can be attributed to climate change by 2030 in Tanzania for a 1 and 2 degree increase in temperatures, respectively. The total costs of cholera attributable to climate change are shown to be in the range of 0.32 to 1.4 percent of GDP in Tanzania 2030. The results provide useful insights into national-level estimates of the implications of climate change on the health sector and offer information which can feed into both national and international debates on financing and planning adaptation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health Impacts and Adaptation)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview The Health Effects of Climate Change: A Survey of Recent Quantitative Research
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(5), 1523-1547; doi:10.3390/ijerph9051523
Received: 14 March 2012 / Revised: 2 April 2012 / Accepted: 3 April 2012 / Published: 25 April 2012
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (285 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In recent years there has been a large scientific and public debate on climate change and its direct as well as indirect effects on human health. In particular, a large amount of research on the effects of climate changes on human health has
[...] Read more.
In recent years there has been a large scientific and public debate on climate change and its direct as well as indirect effects on human health. In particular, a large amount of research on the effects of climate changes on human health has addressed two fundamental questions. First, can historical data be of some help in revealing how short-run or long-run climate variations affect the occurrence of infectious diseases? Second, is it possible to build more accurate quantitative models which are capable of predicting the future effects of different climate conditions on the transmissibility of particularly dangerous infectious diseases? The primary goal of this paper is to review the most relevant contributions which have directly tackled those questions, both with respect to the effects of climate changes on the diffusion of non-infectious and infectious diseases, with malaria as a case study. Specific attention will be drawn on the methodological aspects of each study, which will be classified according to the type of quantitative model considered, namely time series models, panel data and spatial models, and non-statistical approaches. Since many different disciplines and approaches are involved, a broader view is necessary in order to provide a better understanding of the interactions between climate and health. In this respect, our paper also presents a critical summary of the recent literature related to more general aspects of the impacts of climate changes on human health, such as: the economics of climate change; how to manage the health effects of climate change; the establishment of Early Warning Systems for infectious diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health Impacts and Adaptation)
Open AccessReview Local Heat Stroke Prevention Plans in Japan: Characteristics and Elements for Public Health Adaptation to Climate Change
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(12), 4563-4581; doi:10.3390/ijerph8124563
Received: 18 October 2011 / Revised: 23 November 2011 / Accepted: 2 December 2011 / Published: 7 December 2011
Cited by 16 | PDF Full-text (443 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The adverse health effects from hot weather and heat waves represent significant public health risks in vulnerable areas worldwide. Rising temperatures due to climate change are aggravating these risks in a context of fast urbanization, population growth and societal ageing. However, environmental heat-related
[...] Read more.
The adverse health effects from hot weather and heat waves represent significant public health risks in vulnerable areas worldwide. Rising temperatures due to climate change are aggravating these risks in a context of fast urbanization, population growth and societal ageing. However, environmental heat-related health effects are largely preventable through adequate preparedness and responses. Public health adaptation to climate change will often require the implementation of heat wave warning systems and targeted preventive activities at different levels. While several national governments have established such systems at the country level, municipalities do not generally play a major role in the prevention of heat disorders. This paper analyzes selected examples of locally operated heat-health prevention plans in Japan. The analysis of these plans highlights their strengths, but also the need of local institutions for assistance to make the transition towards an effective public health management of high temperatures and heat waves. It can also provide useful elements for municipal governments in vulnerable areas, both in planning their climate change and health adaptation activities or to better protect their communities against current health effects from heat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health Impacts and Adaptation)
Open AccessReview A Review of Frameworks for Developing Environmental Health Indicators for Climate Change and Health
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(7), 2854-2875; doi:10.3390/ijerph8072854
Received: 3 June 2011 / Revised: 24 June 2011 / Accepted: 29 June 2011 / Published: 13 July 2011
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (626 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The role climate change may play in altering human health, particularly in the emergence and spread of diseases, is an evolving area of research. It is important to understand this relationship because it will compound the already significant burden of diseases on national
[...] Read more.
The role climate change may play in altering human health, particularly in the emergence and spread of diseases, is an evolving area of research. It is important to understand this relationship because it will compound the already significant burden of diseases on national economies and public health. Authorities need to be able to assess, anticipate, and monitor human health vulnerability to climate change, in order to plan for, or implement action to avoid these eventualities. Environmental health indicators (EHIs) provide a tool to assess, monitor, and quantify human health vulnerability, to aid in the design and targeting of interventions, and measure the effectiveness of climate change adaptation and mitigation activities. Our aim was to identify the most suitable framework for developing EHIs to measure and monitor the impacts of climate change on human health and inform the development of interventions. Using published literature we reviewed the attributes of 11 frameworks. We identified the Driving force-Pressure-State-Exposure-Effect-Action (DPSEEA) framework as the most suitable one for developing EHIs for climate change and health. We propose the use of EHIs as a valuable tool to assess, quantify, and monitor human health vulnerability, design and target interventions, and measure the effectiveness of climate change adaptation and mitigation activities. In this paper, we lay the groundwork for the future development of EHIs as a multidisciplinary approach to link existing environmental and epidemiological data and networks. Analysis of such data will contribute to an enhanced understanding of the relationship between climate change and human health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health Impacts and Adaptation)

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