Public Health and Adaptation

Public Health and Adaptation

Alex Score
Time Slot: 
Concurrent Sessions 5
Session Type: 
Tools and Posters

This session explores adaptation strategies in the public health sector. With a range of perspectives, from mental health to urban heat issues, the session will explore methods for addressing these climate-related health concerns.


Health and Urban Heat: Applied Research and Lessons from Implementation
Kurt Shickman, Global Cool Cities Alliance
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A number of cities have done deep dives into the link between human health and rising urban heat. Louisville is one of the country’s fastest heating cities in the U.S. and has closely evaluated its urban areas that are its hottest, most vulnerable but also that have the greatest opportunity for cooling benefits. The city is currently undertaking studies that measure the health impact of new green infrastructure at a molecular level. In Chicago and Boston – two cities traditionally considered “cold” climates – researchers are looking at the health improvement potential of urban heat mitigation strategies and finding significant opportunities to reduce mortality. Los Angeles is currently dealing with a massive challenge from excess urban heat that will increase as the years go by. Heat’s negative impacts on health, air quality, and economics are overwhelmingly borne by vulnerable, low-income communities. In response to this dire challenge, a multi-disciplinary, national partnership of universities, nonprofit organizations, community groups and government agencies formed the Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative to design research-driven, dynamic, and inclusive strategies for cooling urban areas using trees, vegetation and reflective surfaces. This session will review the research completed to date in Louisville, Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles. The session will also discuss the formation of the Los Angeles Urban Cooing Collaborative, partnership of several universities and non-profits that has galvanized heat health research funding, and investigate how it interacts with city and other stakeholders and opportunities to replicate its success in other cities/regions.

Advancing Climate Adaptation in State Public Health Agencies
Rachel M Gregg, EcoAdapt
  • Tera Johnson, EcoAdapt
  • Juanita Constible, Natural Resources Defense Council
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Climate change poses significant threats to the health of individuals and communities, as well as the delivery of health care services. Human morbidity and mortality rates are expected to rise due to extreme heat events and changing patterns of waterborne and vector-borne diseases, and health care infrastructure is at risk from extreme events. EcoAdapt and the Natural Resources Defense Council partnered to assess the state of climate adaptation planning and implementation for climate-related threats in 16 U.S. states in the West (Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Washington), Midwest/Great Lakes (Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin), Northeast (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania), and Southeast (North Carolina, Virginia, Florida). These states include a cross-section of areas in which the Natural Resources Defense Council is already engaged in climate and clean energy advocacy work, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) Framework is being operationalized. The project’s objectives were to (1) assess understanding among public health officials of climate change impacts; (2) document activities – planned and underway – to prepare for and respond to climate-related challenges; and (3) synthesize findings in case studies to inform adaptation planning in other states. This presentation will include discussion of the current science, tools, and approaches for climate adaptation in the public health sector, case studies from our assessment, and opportunities for future action.

Cross-Sector Engagement as a Means to Developing Community Resilience-Building Strategies in Maricopa County, AZ
Emily Mead, Institute for Sustainable Communities
  • Karina French, Institute for Sustainable Communities
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Phoenix, AZ sits within Maricopa County, the largest county in the state at 4.5 million people and growing. The need to address pressing environmental, economic, and social vulnerabilities grows deeper as the population increases rapidly. Extreme heat, income inequalities, and low social connectedness are just a few issues facing the County. The Advancing Community Resilience Partnership (ACRP) is a local effort designed to build community resilience in Maricopa County through the social services sector. Led in a partnership between the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) and a local philanthropic funder, the ACRP seeks to address key vulnerabilities by building networks of cross-sector partners to design resilience-building solutions and ultimately increase social cohesion, a strong indicator of community resilience. Since the work began in 2016, ISC has developed a unique stakeholder engagement process that takes a network through a series of workshops and calls on partners to develop trust, collect and share data, map the current services system, and ultimately identify opportunities for improving the system long-term. Through this process, ISC focuses on social resilience as the entry-point for building overall community resilience, and facilitates opportunities for partners to identify and address issues of equity early-on. Thus far, ISC has developed three networks focused on key local issues in education, health care access, and economic security, and has documented successes and challenges over the past two years. ISC is excited to share with peers the insights discovered and lessons learned through this unique cross-sector engagement community resilience effort.

Navigating mental health care in a changing climate
Katie Hayes, University of Toronto
  • Blake Poland, University of Toronto
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In 2013, High River, Alberta experienced a super flood that displaced the entire community. The mental health implications of this event reverberate 5-years later. This super flood followed an earlier 2005 major flooding event in the community. Notably, flooding is the most frequent form of disaster globally and incidents of flooding are predicted to increase due to the impacts of climate change.

This session explores the availability and accessibility of mental health care (both public sector and community-based) before, during, and after the flood. This session documents how High Riverites, particularly those most marginalized, navigate mental health care before, during, and after the flood until present day. This session unpacks mental health impacts of climate change and response interventions that support psychological adaptation.

Original research findings from an empirical study of the psychosocial consequences of climate change and community-based mental health responses in High River will be presented. Participants will learn key takeaways from this investigation, like the role that mental health and climate change vulnerability and adaptation assessments can play in supporting mental health following climate change-related extreme weather.

Integrating Public Health Service Delivery, Health Equity and Local Climate Adaptation Planning
Yoon Kim, Four Twenty Seven
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hanges in climate will have a broad range of impacts on human health. For instance, higher temperatures may result in both direct impacts such as heat stress and indirect impacts such as shifts in disease vector distribution. Public health professionals are already uniquely positioned to serve a regional population and address a variety of health challenges. Effective responses to the health impacts of climate change will require public health officials to understand the linkages between human health and the demographic, social and environmental factors that contribute to these impacts.