173642 Impact of climate change on population migration and public health

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 12:45 PM

Zoe Clayson, ScD , Abundantia Consulting, San Francisco, CA
José Ramón Fernández-Peña, MD, MPA , Health Education, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Melissa Janis, MA , Abundantia Consulting, San Francisco, CA
Studies predict up to 150 million people will be forced from their homes between now and 2050 due to climate changes. This would constitute one of the largest movements of people in history (Royal Society, ProcR, SocB357, 2006; Christian Aid Report, 2007). In economic terms, the overall cost is estimated between 5% and 20% of annual global GDP (Stern Review Report, 2007). The results of these mass displacements will increase poverty and associated health effects including decreases in life expectancy and increases in infant mortality and infectious diseases.

The case study presented of Mexico further elucidates these points. To be successful in the long term a clear approach to climate change is needed to obviate future costs. Droughts and desertification in Mexico are increasingly impacting internal migration patterns and adding to out migration to the United States. The average age of agricultural producers affected by climate change was more than 50 years, and one third of them were women, showing a social composition shift toward those that are more vulnerable (Cortes, 2004; Gay, 2004).

This paper identifies three policy strategies to decrease the impact of climate change using a public health cross-border lens: 1) government capacity building is the key to reducing climate change related to migration; 2) policy evaluation tools are essential to assist governments in adapting to climate risks and incorporating climate change measures into development assistance; and 3) a regional approach to climate impact assessment and policy making, such as discussions of water use, would be valuable.

Learning Objectives:
1. Recognize the importance of the impact of climate change on human migration, particularly in the developing world. 2. Describe the public health impacts of human migration: increases in infant mortality, decreases in life expectancy, and increases in infectious diseases. 3. Identify three policy strategies necessary to monitor climate change, both globally and regionally, reducing its impacts.

Keywords: Climate Change, International

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.