Thursday, December 15, 2011

Health-relevant adaptation to climate change "still in its infancy"

Liz Kalaugher in Environmental Research Web: Climate change is likely to affect human health through its effects on extreme temperatures, air quality, infectious disease, extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, storms and land shifts, and food and water safety and security. But it's not clear how many adaptation measures have been taken around the world to help countries protect their populations.

In the first study of its kind, researchers from McGill University, Canada, examined the Fifth National Communication (NC) reports sent to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by Annex I parties (mainly developed countries) in 2009 and 2010. This provided information on health adaptation measures taken by 38 of the 41 countries; Malta, Monaco and Turkey did not submit their data in time for the study.

"We wanted to know what level of adaptation countries were reaching, and what kinds of health vulnerabilities were drawing adaptation responses," Alexandra Lesnikowski told environmentalresearchweb. "This is not the first time that a systematic assessment of adaptation has been conducted, but it is the first time we are aware of that this approach has been applied specifically to health adaptation."

The scientists found that health adaptation is still a developing area. Only 15% of the 1,912 actions were being taken specifically with human health in mind; the others were part of adaptation for sectors such as agriculture, water and spatial planning, which can all affect health, but the actions were "being carried out without the inclusion of the public-health sector or a recognition of linkages with public health". There was only a vague link between adaptation research and actions…

No comments: