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Adapting to Climate Change: Public Health


This paper addresses the projected health consequences of climate change, reviewing the projected adverse effects, the diverse strategies that might mitigate these effects, and the potential effectiveness of these strategies. The review is qualitative and does not itself quantify the potential health burden of these effects; such assessments have been reported and are reviewed.  This review begins with a discussion of the concepts and methods of public health, covering the general strategies used to identify and manage threats to the health of the public and to prospectively implement programs to improve the public’s health. Ongoing data collection to monitor health status and disease occurrence is fundamental to these strategies, as is evaluation of any interventions that are implemented. It draws on standard sources in public health (Teutsch and Churchill 2000; Detels et al. 2004; Wallace 2008) and covers major health consequences of climate change, including mortality associated with hot and cold temperatures, allergic diseases, air pollution, and infectious diseases. It does not address hurricanes and other climate?driven natural disasters. Models support the potential for climate change to increase the frequency and severity of such disasters, which may have dramatic public health consequences and necessitate responses at the national and global levels (Metz et al. 2007). However, the potential consequences of such disasters and the need for response mechanisms are already well documented.

Primary Toolkit:

Climate Change Toolkit

Keyword Area:

Adaptation, Climate, Environmental Health, Evaluation


Institutional Author:

Resources for the Future





Five most recent user comments

1.5 Stars of 5 - Not Useful
By Linda Tindall

4 Stars of 5 - Very Useful
Highly recommend reading
By Edward Marugg
Very good overview of the climate change issue.  Good tools for the big picture, but not specific tools for local public health.  Highly recommend reading.

The NACCHO Toolbox is a repository of available resources to help local public health practitioners. Tools are produced by local, state, and federal agencies, as well as academic institutions and other stakeholders. The contents of this Toolbox are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect any official recommendations of NACCHO. NACCHO makes no express or implied warranty with respect to the contents and disclaims liability for any damages arising from or connected to the use of the material in this Toolbox.