Online Program

Identifying and mapping impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities in San Diego

Monday, November 4, 2013

Paula Stigler, MSPH, PhD Candidate, Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Richard Gersberg, PhD, Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Introduction: Global climate change poses serious risks to communities. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that low income, minorities and elderly populations are especially susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change. Understanding existing community health risks and population vulnerabilities to climate change at the regional and community level is a core need when planning for future climate risks and community adaptation plans. The goal of this project is to develop new data that will help to fill in critical gaps in our understanding and community capacity to prepare the most vulnerable communities for future changes, which will most likely impact them first and worst. Methods: A population vulnerability assessment utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the Environmental Justice Screening Method (EJSM) and the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) was conducted to identify and map those populations most vulnerable to climate change impact in San Diego County, California. Using census tract level data, the models synthesized 31 different socioeconomic variables. Adapted climate change metrics such as air conditioning ownership, land cover characteristics, access to transportation, flood risk, and wildfire risk were also added to these models and a cumulative impact score was determined. Maps illustrating current and future climate change scenarios were generated indicating the communities at a higher risk to climate change. Results: Several communities in San Diego County were found to be at a high or elevated risk to the negative impacts of climate change, including heat strokes, displacement and increased illness. Recommendations: Policies and plans to mitigate the impacts of climate change on these communities must be discussed and implemented. New initiatives should be developed that integrate the priorities and needs of vulnerable communities as well as include community leaders in developing strategies to address these needs.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify the communities that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts in San Diego; Describe the model used to identify vulnerable populations to climate change; Assess vulnerable populations to climate change using different models and geographic information systems (GIS)

Keyword(s): Climate Change, Environmental Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have led several large projects working with vulnerable populations and environmental justice and have been the principal investigator on this project dealing with climate change. Among my research interest has been the understanding of how communities can best adapt to climate change and strategies for spatial representation and risk assessment.
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.