A research team in the UK has recently completed a strategic review of health risks associated with flooding. The team has collated existing knowledge both on the health impacts of floods and on responses to the health risks by individuals, health systems and external organizations, in order to assess future policy and research needs in the context of climate change.
For more information and a copy of the report of an expert workshop which was part of this project, visit: www.tyndall.ac.uk/research/theme3/summary_t3_31.shtml
World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop Guidelines that any country can use to set up and run Heat/Health Warning Systems, including monitoring and prediction of conditions leading to serious heatwaves, communication between the meteorological and health sectors, and increasingly will include special measures for intervention in communities, to inform and better protect the most vulnerable members of society. Several showcase projects have demonstrated that such partnerships are vital to saving lives when heatwaves threaten.
For more information, visit: www.wmo.ch/web/wcp/clips2001/html/HHWS_docs/Heat-Health%20Warning%
The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) secretariat has developed a new cross-cutting Platform for the Promotion of Early Warning, following the recommendations of the Second International Conference on Early Warning in Bonn, Germany in 2003. Supported by a grant from Germany, the platform will promote the development of more effective systems for early warning and preparedness systems, through advocacy, UN coordination, programme development, support of innovation, and information dissemination. One current project is examining early warning as an adaptation tool.
For more information, visit www.unisdr-earlywarning.org
When the Hollywood film 'The Day After Tomorrow' was released, scientists, politicians, environmental groups and critics speculated about the effect it would have on public perceptions and action on climate change. Tyndell Centre (UK) Working Paper 72, released in March 2005, investigated the impact of this film on people's perception of climate change. Over 300 respondents in Norwich(UK) completed a two-part questionnaire in a cinema foyer, directly before and after seeing the movie. Respondents were then invited to participate in 3 focus groups one month after watching the film, to explore their perceptions and views in greater depth. The research showed that seeing the film, at least in the short term, changed people's attitudes; viewers were significantly more concerned not only about climate change, but also about other environmental risks such as biodiversity loss and radioactive waste disposal. Viewers experienced difficulty differentiating fact from fiction and the movie tended to reduce belief in the likelihood of extreme events as a result of climate change. Following the film, many viewers expressed strong motivation to act on climate change, more so than prior to seeing the film. However, analysis showed that people require specific guidance on what to do in order to mitigate climate change. The focus groups showed that any increase in concern was short lived, with most viewers seeing the film as purely entertainment. The authors of the paper argue that this has implications for climate policy and provision of public information.
For more information, visit www.tyndall.ac.uk
The International Conference on Stabilization of Greenhouse Gases-Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, took place at the Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom, on 1-3 February 2005.
The conference brought together over 200 participants from some 30 countries, mainly scientists and representatives from international universities, organizations and national governments. It provided a forum for scientists to exchange views on the consequences and risks presented to natural and human systems as a result of changes in the world's climate.
The conference discussions were based around the long-term implications of different levels of climate change for different sectors, and for the world as a whole. This involved various themes, such as vulnerabilities of the climate system and critical thresholds; socioeconomic efforts, both globally and regionally; emission pathways to gases; as well as technological options to achieve stabilization levels.
The overall ethos of the conference was discerning the extent to which it might be possible to identify an optimum response to climate change, avoiding both dangerous impacts and unacceptable mitigation costs. It was concluded that major investment is needed now in both mitigation and adaptation. While mitigation is certainly essential in order to minimize future impacts, adaptation is imperative in order to cope with the impacts that cannot be avoided in the near to medium term.
For more information, the Report of the Steering Committee can be found at: http://www.stabilisation2005.com/outcomes.html
In recognition that the health of populations in Europe is and will continue to be affected by global climate changes, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, is conducting an impact and adaptation assessment, Climate Change and Adaptation Strategies for Human Health (cCASHh), for four climate-related health outcomes.
These health outcomes include the health effects of: heat and cold; extreme weather events; infectious diseases transmitted by insects and ticks (e.g. tick-borne encephalitis, malaria); and infectious diseases transmitted through the water supply or food. For each of these outcomes an epidemiological assessment, an economic analysis, and a policy analysis will be performed. For some of the health outcomes, future projections will also be completed. The policy analysis aspect of the assessment will identify currently existing environmental health policies at international, European and national levels, frameworks of implementation, and implementation barriers; and will analyse win-win policies. Thus the cCASHh Project has the overall objective of assessing, and eventually enhancing, adaptation possibilities of communities to climate change-related impacts on human health.
Certain reports such as Heat-waves: risks and responses, are already available at: http://www.euro.who.int/ccashh/heatcold/20040330_1. Various aspects of the other health outcome studies can be found through the cCASHh homepage at http://www.euro.who.int/ccashh, by clicking on the various health outcome links.