4173.0 Communicating the Public Health Aspect of Climate Change

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 12:30 PM
There is widespread scientific consensus that the world’s climate is changing. The effects of climate change will have significant public health impacts. Many Americans and people in the World – including key publics such as elected officials, health professionals, television personalities and meteorologists, journalists, community leaders, and policy people – do not currently view climate change as a threat to human health. Rather, they see it as an environmental or a political issue. The public health community has a special obligation to protect the health and wellbeing of the American people and people around the world by implementing adaptation strategies to prepare for health outcomes as a result of climate change. The public health community must also become involved in efforts to mitigate climate change as a means to prevent health issues resulting from, at a minimum, more frequent and severe heat waves, more frequent and severe floods and consequent contamination of drinking water supplies, and an increase in vector-borne diseases. Effective communication of the health dimensions of climate change by the public health community is essential to motivate people to take personal, and societal, action to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Ineffective communication may create frightening scenarios and cause immobilization, disengagement and/or helplessness in people. This session will highlight challenges and opportunities for communicating about the health aspects of climate change, including the repositioning of climate change so that the American people and people around the World understand it as a potent threat to human health.
Session Objectives: 1. To understand the challenges in communicating the public health dimensions of climate change; 2. To describe potential opportunities for public health framing of climate change, including strategies for working effectively with journalists and news organizations to ensure media attention and quality coverage; 3. To understand the key beliefs and images that predispose people to understand climate change as a threat, and ways to effectively convey these key thoughts and images; 4. To learn to engage the public affectively, as well as cognitively, when presenting science-based, public health and climate change messages; 5. To determine whether education and outreach programs and related messages for the public are effective in changing behaviors to succeed in adapting to increased health risks expected from climate change.

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Organized by: Environment
Endorsed by: Medical Care, Public Health Education and Health Promotion, School Health Education and Services

See more of: Environment