Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 4:45 PM
Room 353 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Extreme weather is increasingly affecting more communities in more places around the world. In 2014 and 2015, cynics of climate change have pointed to colder than normal spots on the globe while weather records on average continue to show a warming planet and precipitation patterns defying their climatological means. In general, traditional weather patterns are shifting components of climate change. These shifts have consequences in a cascade of different environmental conditions and challenges for public health practices. The best way to meet such challenges is through interdisciplinary education and training that focus on the important sociocultural aspects of people and place. Communities and towns all possess social and cultural norms that affect the way people respond to their surrounding natural environment. This paper presents a framework for understanding, assessing and interacting with local communities (urban, rural and suburban) in a variety of environments and weather extremes. It is a framework that can be integrated into professional training around health and environmental and earth sciences in a variety of educational curricula. The unique aspect of this framework is that it considers local culture, people and place related to extreme weather and health. We have created an approach that considers space, place and social indicators in a holistic fashion to better understand the links between health and changing environments due to weather. Our framework hinges on identifying the place-based characteristics of people who live in different types of geographies and who have developed different patterns of culturally-based interaction with each other and their surrounding natural environments. Community response to extreme weather should first educate people representing a variety of backgrounds within that community about how climate and their surrounding environment are changing, and why it is a community health issue. Our educational model builds around the strengths of people and place, sharing information about extreme weather and health. We find that satisfactory solutions for new health challenges from extreme weather demand collaboration between interdisciplinary science and multi-sector pragmatism. Here we discuss how this can be done, best practices for health education and building trust across science and the community before even greater extremes of weather strike.
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