Climate changes have jeopardized human health in the past, and are bound to do so again. The Dust Bowl of the 1930s, for example, led to many illnesses and deaths from breathing difficulties and malnutrition, and prompted westward migrations of people vying for scarce food, shelter, and work.
Future severe climate changes will likewise have major public health ramifications. Following a request from Gov. Christine Gregoire, Washington State Department of Health and University of Washington health researchers are analyzing the likely effects of climate change on the state over the next century. Their group is called the Climate Change and Human Health Impacts Team, and goes by the acronym CHIT.
Their assessments will be based on scenarios developed by the UW Climate Impacts Group, an interdisciplinary research effort to discern the effects on the Pacific Northwest of natural climate shifts as well as global warming. The findings on potential health effects will be presented to the governor and the state legislature. The researchers will recommend how to manage and mitigate, and perhaps prevent, anticipated public health problems.
This study is part of a broader project funded by the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development and directed by Dr. Edward L. Miles, the Bloedel Professor of Marine Studies and Public Affairs at the UW. The project, which has been funded for two years, is called "A Comprehensive Assessment of the Impacts of Climate Change on the State of Washington." Alongside public health, project teams will examine other areas vital to the life and livelihood of the state. These include agriculture, coasts, estuaries, and harbors; energy and hydroelectric power; forests, hydrology and water resources; salmon and ecosystems, and civil engineering infrastructures.
"Problems related to climate change in any of these areas could affect human health," said Dr. Roger Rosenblatt, professor
|Contact: Leila Gray|
University of Washington