Recently, the White House made an announcement about its plan to address some of the human health impacts of climate change. Educating healthcare professionals with a new coalition, creating two government reports, and disease-related projects from Google and Microsoft were mentioned.
Most humans on this planet have probably at least heard the words climate change before, if they live in an area that has mass media. However, climate change can impact human health in addition to the natural world, and many still don't understand this. We all perhaps have wondered if any of the extreme weather events, like superstorms and droughts, have any link to climate change. Indeed, weather intensification is scientifically connected to climate change.
“I think what we are seeing in the public debate is increasing awareness and acceptance … that not only is climate change real, the impacts are things that are affecting more and more people in their daily lives,” explained Brian Deese, a presidential advisor. “The most salient arguments around climate change are associated with health impacts and are ones that meet people where they are, and that requires making an argument about how climate change is affecting local communities and individuals,” he said.
150 health-related datasets will be added to the Climate Data Initiative information that was initially more focused on environmental measurements like sea level rise. Microsoft is working on a research project involving drones that can capture mosquitoes before they spread diseases to humans. A drone could fly to a suspect area infested with mosquitoes, and collect specimens that could be analyzed later for the presence of diseases. If it were known before a disease outbreak where the infected mosquitoes were living and breeding, it would be much more likely they could be eliminated before one occurs. Malaria, Dengue fever, West Nile virus, encephalitis, and yellow fever are examples of these kinds of diseases. (The US Dept. of Defense will also work on a Dengue fever project.)
Last year, the White House released some guidelines to help hospitals get ready for the impacts of climate change. Flooding during Superstorm Sandy compromised the functioning of a number of such facilities. There were also power outages that impacted them. Obviously, health care units need to be dry and powered to best serve their patients, so preparing for climate change could help them remain fully functional.
Image Credit: Zach Rudisin, via Wiki Commons