Public Health and Climate

Water-related Disease and Climate

Human-induced climate change is altering precipitation patterns in most parts of the world (Stocker et al., 2013). In the future, climate change will likely exacerbate droughts (Trenberth et al., 2014; Dai, 2012) and drastically increase the likelihood of floods throughout many parts of South America, Africa and southern Asia (Hirabayashi  et al., 2013) …

Regional Climate Change Hubs. An Opportunity for Connecticut

Last month the USDA announced plans to create seven climate change “hubs” to provide outreach and training on behalf of the farm, agriculture and forestry sectors in the seven regions they serve.  The effort represents a realignment of existing government resources rather than new investment.  It’s a welcome development, and a model for other government agencies to collectively address climate change-related impacts outside the realm of agriculture.

Climate Change Changing Dengue Fever Distribution

Already endemic in over 110 countries, and with almost 50 million cases annually, dengue fever continues to spread. Incidences have increased almost 30-fold in the past 50 years. Although rarely fatal, the disease costs Latin America and the Caribbean around $2.1 billion annually. Being a vector-borne disease, it is spread by mosquitos that frequently lay their eggs in standing water that is common near households in many tropical countries. Previous research has shown that dengue fever exhibits seasonal patterns, which means that climate change might affect its spread.

South America Weather Forecast: Gastrointestinal Disease Likely

Climate scientists predict that climate change will lead to increased variability in precipitation over much of South America.  Research by Carlton et al (2013) on residents of northwestern rural Ecuador who rely on streams and rivers for their drinking water shows how those changes might impact water quality and associated rates of diarrhea, a water-related disease which leads to approximately 1 million deaths of young children worldwide each year.  The study further highlighted curious dynamics involving precipitation and water-borne disease.

Using Google to Track the Effects of Climate Change

The internet’s vast quantities of information and its popularity among people all over the globe represent a tempting and enormous data pool for researchers. Political strategists, economists, and epidemiologists mine internet usage data to learn about human behaviors and cultural trends, producing interesting results (though sometimes flawed; see Butler 2013). Could scientists who study climate change use similar online data-mining tools to better understand and track the effects of climate change? A recent paper by Proulx and colleagues argues just that.


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