264329 Climate Change, Environmental Challenges and Vulnerable Communities: Assessing Legacies of the Past, Building Opportunities for the Future

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dennis P. Andrulis, PhD, MPH , Senior Research Scientist, Texas Health Institute, Austin, TX
Nadia J. Siddiqui, MPH , Senior Health Policy Analyst, Texas Health Institute, Austin, TX
Maria Cooper, MA , School of Public Health, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, TX
Background: A growing body of evidence suggests that low income, minorities and other populations are especially susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change events. However, research has not focused specifically on related threats and state or local response to them. This report for the first time establishes a multi-state baseline inventory of current data, research, programs and policies documenting significant gaps in current resources and inattention to vulnerable communities. Methods: Our report uses models of social vulnerability to analyze the effects of climate change on these vulnerable populations as part of a six state (southern region) case study of Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. Analyses included review of existing state and local programs and policies, use of publicly available measures of vulnerability (demography, health, health access), and climate change and GIS mapping. Results: We found multiple areas in the region where highly vulnerable populations overlay with major climate and environmental-related challenges. Across the region, the report documents, with few exceptions, consistent and complete inattention to vulnerable populations in state level climate change policy and in most community level efforts. Moreover, relatively few studies or convened expert groups considered these populations and their needs. Recommendations: Existing climate change efforts should be reviewed and renewed, and new initiatives addressing climate change should integrate the needs and priorities of vulnerable populations through state legislation and policy, community engagement strategies, representation among task forces and advisory committees as well as academic institutions and foundation support of research, outreach, and education.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Environmental health sciences
Program planning
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the disproportionate effects and increased burden of a changing climate on vulnerable populations in a 6 state region.

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Health Disparities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal of multiple federally funded grants focusing on the health disparities among racially and ethnically diverse populations. Among my scientific interests has been the incorporation of these populations into public health policies and programs.
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.