TJ2.4 Highlights from the Fourth National Climate Assessment: Human Health

Monday, 7 January 2019: 2:45 PM
North 226C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
John Balbus, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD

The U.S. Global Change Research Program’s (USGCRP) Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) summarizes the scientific literature on the impacts and risks associated with climate change in the United States, as well as the evaluation of adaptation measures to address those risks. Among the key achievements of NCA4 is the integration of health considerations throughout the report – both in other sectoral chapters and, especially, in the regional chapters. Assessment of health impacts in the NCA4 builds on the USGCRP’s 2016 assessment, “The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States.” The chapter also assesses current understanding of adaptation measures, economic valuation of impacts and benefits, and the role of the health sector in adaptation and mitigation.

The health risks of climate change are projected to increase in the future, with the magnitude and pattern of impacts partially dependent on the timeliness and effectiveness of adaptation and mitigation efforts. Health risks and impacts also vary by location. Importantly, some populations are disproportionately vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change. Weather and climate extremes can also disrupt provision of and access to health care, with resulting risks of worsened illness and death.

Communities, public health departments and other stakeholders are beginning to take action to increase health preparedness and both population and health system resilience . For example, heat wave early warnings and resilient power grids can protect public health now and in the future.

NCA4’s health chapter also includes information on the economic valuation of avoided health impacts that would result from reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and less severe changes in future climate.

This presentation will summarize the health findings of the NCA4 and discuss the team approach to incorporating health into the many relevant chapters of the report.

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