The Climate Change Challenge and Barriers to the Exercise of Foresight Intelligence

by Ellen Broaddus

In Ross et al. (2016), experts from various academic fields assess some of the barriers that aid today’s denial and inaction combating climate change, even with overwhelming evidence from the scientific community. This hesitancy is traced back to a combination of cognitive shortcomings and the difficulty to work collectively on an issue so complex and seemingly indirect. However, the authors provide examples of strategies used to combat said inaction and their efficacy.    Continue reading

The Impact of Climate Change on Aedes aegypti Behavior in Latin America and the Caribbean

by Shannon O’Neill

Climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has impacted precipitation and temperatures, which have been associated with increases in seasonal outbreaks of dengue fever. However, such correlations are often speculative due to the complexity of interactions involved in vector-borne diseases. Researchers Chadee and Martinez (2015) focused on the adaptive behaviors of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in efforts to fill some of the research gaps typically associated with the research of these diseases. This mosquito is a successful vector for various vector-borne diseases, including dengue fever, Zika virus, and chikungunya, and has shown adaptive behaviors. This research will provide the information to create better vector control strategies that can be applied in order to limit climate change impacts on the resurgence of these diseases. Continue reading

Climate Change as a Public Health Issue

by Shannon O’Neill

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that roughly half of the world’s population is at risk of infection by vector-borne disease. Furthermore, vector-borne diseases are responsible for one-sixth of illness and disability throughout the world, killing at least one million people each year. Vector-borne diseases tend to highlight socioeconomics differences and problems, as they increase health inequalities, with developing countries having a 300 times greater mortality rate from them. These countries do not have the resources for preventative care or to manage outbreaks. Additionally, vector-borne diseases tend to paralyze health systems and substantially decrease tourism. Though some efforts to control vector-borne diseases have been quite successful, these diseases still pose a major threat to the world as re-emergence becomes more likely owing to greater organism drug resistance and other changing environmental factors. Continue reading

The Effect of Climate Change on the Ixodes Tick Success Rate of Transmitting Lyme Disease

by Shannon O’Neill

The potential for a rapid increase of the geographical distribution of ticks and tick-borne pathogens with increasing temperatures is a major public health issue. Therefore, the relationships between the tick, pathogen, hosts, and each of their environments must be better understood in order to effectively manage future outbreaks. Climate change is often considered to be a driving force of increased tick-borne disease. However, the effects of climate on disease are difficult to distinguish from other potential causes. Ostfeld and Brunner (2015) specifically studied the Ixodes tick that spreads Lyme disease in an effort to discern why this tick and the pathogens it transmits have continued to increase with warmer temperatures. The researchers first identified environmental factors for the current tick distribution, then used these factors as a predictor of future suitable tick habitats with climatic changes. Finally, they looked at how various environmental factors sustain both tick populations and the pathogens they transmit. Continue reading

Climate Change Impacts Human Health

 

 

 

 

 

by Kaylee Anderson

Climate change has been found to play a role in many health issues across the globe because of the broad range of its effects on the environment.Franchini et al. (2015) do a current review showing that the increased temperatures, greater frequency of extreme weather events, increased air pollution, decreased safe water, and lower crop yields are only some of the impacts on our planet. The impact on these resources can be correlated which many public health issues. Extreme weather events, such as heat waves, affect several components of health, including, higher morality and greater susceptibility to chronic respiratory and cardiovascular disease and can also exacerbate pre-existing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Heat waves are typically associated with drought, contributing greatly to the occurrence of wildfires, and therefore, increases in smoke emissions, which are correlated with increased hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

Additionally, drought and heat have adverse effects on food production. Many low-income countries are seeing higher death rates of children under 5 due to malnutrition-induced pneumonia. In low-income countries, the drought forces lesser quality of hygiene, which ultimately increases the frequency of diarrheal diseases.

Lastly, the air quality worsens due to particulate matter, which can enter the blood stream and increase premature mortality. Aeroallergens are also more prevalent, which has led to more allergy-related hospitalizations and higher rates of allergic sensitization.

Ultimately, climate change influences a broad range of health issues, including nutrition, infectious diseases, allergies, and cardiovascular disease.

Franchini, M. & Mannucci, P.M.,2015. Impact on human health of climate changes. Eur. J. Intern. Med. 26, 1-5.

 

 

 

Tracking Vulnerabilities to the Risks of Infectious Disease Transmission due to Climate Change in Europe

by Amelia Hamiter

Suk et al. (2014) examine vulnerability as a measurement of both the impact of climate change on infections disease transmission in a region and the region’s ability to respond (described here as adaptive capacity). This concept of vulnerability differs from that used in most public health practices, which generally do not take adaptive capacity as a component of vulnerability. Indeed, the authors note that the health sector has produced little research that examines infectious disease transmission due to climate change or the effects of different socioeconomic development pathways in studies of vulnerability. Thus, they take on the task of creating a quantitative indicator to measure regional vulnerabilities that combines all of these factors. Their projections assess which regions are projected to undergo climate changes more significant than their adaptive capacities, and thus are particularly vulnerable. They evaluate that some of these high vulnerabilities are driven by low adaptive capacities, while others have high adaptive capacities yet face enough projected climate change that they are still highly vulnerable. The researchers recommend that the next steps forward are to carry out more disease-specific and more detailed health indicators of vulnerability studies. Continue reading

Pakistan’s Developing Economy in a Warming World

by JP Kiefer

Despite contributing little to greenhouse gas emissions, the poorest countries and people will be negatively affected by climate change the earliest and most severely. This is due to an increased inability to adapt to changes in crop production, water resources, and human health. Akram and Hamid (2015) determined that Pakistan would be one of the countries hit hardest by climate change. Continue reading