Planning for the Public Health Effects of Climate Migration

by Maxine A Burkett | December 17, 2018

This post was originally published by the Wilson Center's New Security Beat.

In Alaska's arctic communities, Inuit contemplating the need to relocate have reported that the loss of sea ice would make them feel like they are lost or going crazy. Zika and other vector-borne diseases have been a concern primarily for people in the southeastern United States. Recent research on the long-range internal migration of people from the coasts to the interior suggests a broader national concern regarding "climate augmentation" of disease. These are just two examples of the many public health effects we can expect as climate change forces people to uproot themselves.

Linking Climate Change, Migration, and Health

In the future, extreme climate events — including more severe fast-acting coastal storms, rising seas, and more widespread droughts — will dislocate people and affect our public health infrastructure.

Migration can result in poor health outcomes when migrants find they have to face marginalization and discrimination, poverty, exposure to disease vectors, malnutrition, and crowding. Host communities may also experience increased demand on health services as they seek to accommodate migrants.

Climate change leads to three types of migration-related effects on health: 1) primary or direct effects such as injuries and death resulting from extreme weather events; 2) secondary or indirect effects from the increased geographical range of and populations exposed to new diseases; and 3) tertiary or delayed effects from disrupted ...

Climate Change, Public Health, and the Ocean and Coasts

by Robin Kundis Craig | November 05, 2018
Climate change is having significant effects on the ocean. Sea levels are rising. The ocean is becoming warmer, and because the ocean absorbs chemically reactive carbon dioxide, its pH is dropping. Hurricanes, typhoons, and other coastal storms are becoming stronger on average. Marine species are on the move, generally shifting toward the poles and, to a lesser extent, deeper. Coral reefs are dying.  Clearly, the climate impacts on the ocean are cause for concern. Between 2013 and 2016, the ocean ...

Combating Climate Change and Health Risks through a Carbon Fee

by Amro Ali | July 06, 2017
No one is safe from the effects of climate change. That's the key takeaway from a March report by nearly a dozen highly respected medical organizations that studied the link between climate change and risks to our health. And these aren't far-off impacts or theoretical dangers: human-driven climate change is already making people sick. Here's just one example: A woman in southwestern Pennsylvania who had never heard of Lyme disease saw five of her friends contract the illness in recent ...

Health for Women, Health for All

by Catherine O'Neill | January 24, 2017
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently updated their nationwide consumption advisory on mercury contamination in fish. The advisory, which focuses on women of childbearing age and children, aims to "make[] it easier than ever" to determine which fish species to eat and which to avoid. It seeks to ensure that women and children don't have to forgo the health benefits of eating fish in order to avoid consuming the potent neurodevelopmental toxin.    Despite ...
Recommended Resources:
Climate Change
Time for Real Action on Global Warming

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