Online Program

Costs of climate change: U.s. was not prepared for heatwaves in summer 2011

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 5:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Jalonne L. White-Newsome, BS, MS, PhD, Climate and Energy, Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington, DC
Brenda Ekwurzel, AB, BS, PhD, Climate and Energy, Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington, DC
Brooke Anderson, BA, BS, MPhil, PhD, Biostatistics, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Mia Schultz-Baer, BA, Climate and Energy, Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington, DC
Kristie L. Ebi, PhD, MPH, ClimAdapt, LLC, Los Altos, CA
Marie S. O'Neill, BA, MS, PhD, Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Adapting to heatwaves is becoming more critical as the climate changes and extreme heat events are occurring more frequently than in decades past. Despite this trend, previous research suggests that very few U.S. communities have programs in place to prevent health problems during hot weather. The summer of 2011 in the continental U.S. presented an opportunity to study public health preparedness when 41 of the lower 48 states experienced record-breaking hot weather. This report examines local heat adaptation programs and their cost for local county government entities after the 2011 heat wave. Using a multi-modal survey approach, local health and emergency response departments were invited to participate in a survey about their climate change adaptation plans. Overall, 62% of the total respondents did not have a heatwaves plan in place. Surprisingly, those states that did not experience a heatwave in 2011 were more prepared than the states that did experience a heatwave. Other insights about public education, opening cooling centers and collaborations to prevent heat-related health problems were extracted. Overall, very few financial and human capital resources are committed to planning. Locally, coping capacity can be influenced by managerial ability, access to financial, technological resources, infrastructure, and political influence. Studies show that more time and resources have been spent on projecting climate change impacts than on building local capacity to manage and plan for climate-sensitive health threats. Our research amplifies the need for a dedicated federal and local strategy to address extreme weather event planning, funding and education.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Environmental health sciences
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the results of a national survey on heat wave adaptation and the strategies utilized by local government to address climate change Compare the costs of adaptation to heatwaves borne by various local governments Explain the practices and barriers utilized by diverse localities to protect the public form the harmful impacts of heat waves, especially vulnerable populations Demonstrate the level of preparedness of communities to address the heat wave during the summer of 2011 Discuss the policy and planning approaches to enhance community planning around climate change and heatwaves List ways we can better engage local government with communities to build resiliency

Keyword(s): Climate Change, Health Departments

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the lead author on other papers related to this topic, as well as a co-researcher on multiple federally funded grants. Among my scientific interest is protecting the public from the ramifications of climate change, with a focus on planning and policy development at the local level.

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.