Climate and Health

The impacts of climate change on human health are well-documented, including the magnified impacts on the most vulnerable people and communities that have historically been and continue to be marginalized by society. Climate change impacts air quality, access to safe food and water, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events including wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and droughts, exacerbating many health conditions such as respiratory disease and cancers.

Where to begin?

Mitigating these effects starts with promoting information access and a critical understanding of the impacts on vulnerable populations, including older populations, children, low-income populations, ethnic minorities, and patients with chronic conditions.

Addressing the complex challenges of climate change requires a collaborative, compassionate and scientifically excellent — a humanistic — approach.

Following are websites, toolkits, and articles that highlight the intersection between climate change and health, with a particular emphasis on raising awareness of the health impact on marginalized populations and actions that can be taken to mitigate adverse events and promote health equity.

Do you know of a resource that addresses climate change and health equity, that can be shared with the Gold community? Please share a resource here.

Climate Change and Health Equity: Key Questions and Answers from KFF

This brief on climate change and health equity from KFF offers an overview of the impact of climate and climate change on health, addressing questions such as:

  • How do climate and climate change affect health?
  • Who is at increased risk for negative health impacts due to climate and climate change?
  • Why is a focus on climate change and health of growing importance?

A Physician’s Guide to Climate Change, Health and Equity

A Physician’s Guide to Climate Change, Health and Equity is a resource intended to strengthen and inform your voice as a trusted health professional on climate change, health and equity. The guide explores the complex and multifaceted connections between climate change and health, disproportionate burdens and the impacts on health equity, and opportunities for solutions. It is not designed to be read and absorbed all at once, because it is filled with a lot of detailed information and data. Rather, it is meant to be a resource that you can use to prepare for media interviews, visits with legislators or policymakers, news media articles, or presentations such as Grand Rounds, conferences, community talks and more.

The Center for Climate Change & Health offers additional resources including brightly colored downloadable posters about the impact on allergies, asthma, heat, heart health, and food, and a guide for local health departments, and more.

The Climate Resilience for Frontline Clinics Toolkit

The Climate Resilience for Frontline Clinics Toolkit offered by offers downloadable resources and checklists under categories including heat, wildfires, hurricanes, and floods, and organized for Health Care Providers, Patients and Administrators. This initiative is grounded in the philosophy of “patient-centered climate resilience” and is intended to address the needs of communities most impacted by extreme hazardous events that are the result of a changing climate.

StoryCorps: People Share How Climate Change is Harming Health

This StoryCorps initiative, supported through The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, features stories shared by 10 pairs of friends, family, and loved ones across the United States who met to record conversations about how their health and the health of their communities are being impacted by climate change.

Planetary Health Report Card

The Planetary Health Report Card is a student-driven, metric-based tool for evaluating and improving planetary health content in health professional schools across five categories. At each participating institution, student-led, faculty-mentored teams fill out the report card, identifying opportunities for improvement and reaching out to relevant staff and faculty along the way. Results are published in an annual Earth Day report, which helps track institutional change over time. Since its creation, the PHRC has expanded rapidly to evaluate over 100 medical schools in 11 nations.

Though the initiative was developed by medical students to evaluate medical schools, adaptations of the PHRC for nursing and pharmacy training programs have recently been piloted. Its creators aim to inspire planetary health engagement, for our education, for our future, and for our planet.

30 Graphs About Climate Change

This collection of 30 graphs about climate change, from the New York Times, offers stark depictions of our planet’s warming oceans, intensifying storms and rising air temperatures, as well as its greenhouse gas emissions and climate solutions, across time and geography.

Climate Change and Human Health Literature Portal

This bibliographic database from The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences comprises global peer-reviewed research and gray literature on the science of climate impacts on human health.

Today I Learned: Climate Podcast

TILclimate (Today I Learned: Climate) is an award-winning MIT podcast that breaks down the science, technologies, and policies behind climate change, how it’s impacting us, and what we can do about it. Each quick episode gives you the what, why, and how on climate change — from real scientists and experts — to help us make informed decisions for our future.

NEJM Climate change

New England Journal of Medicine offers this collection of articles and other resources related to climate change and climate health published and/or produced by NEJM Group, intended to support physicians and other health care professionals.

Climate Change and Health Equity from SAMHSA

Climate Change and Health Equity is a resource from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that highlights the health impacts of extreme weather and climate-related disasters, including behavioral health issues, and on particularly vulnerable populations, geographies, and communities. It also offers climate and disaster resilience strategies, including risk assessment & planning, outreach & education, and adapting after a disaster, and links to related resources.

Climate Change and Equity Comic from AMA Journal of Ethics

This comic published in the AMA Journal of Ethics illustrates how climate change will likely exacerbate health determinants, such as physical environment, income, and access to education and food, that impact whether, when, and to what extent patients or their communities have equitable access to wellness and health care services. The comic challenges us to consider how our actions now will impact the future.

Healthcare Without Harm

Health Care Without Harm seeks to transform health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability, and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice. This is the US & Canada site; visit the menu bar to select Asia, Europe, and other regions.

Time to Treat the Climate and Nature Crisis as One Indivisible Global Health Emergency

This editorial, published in JAMA Internal Medicine and authored by Editors-in-chief of several international medical journals, calls on health professionals to recognize that climate change and biodiversity loss are one indivisible crisis and must be tackled together to preserve health and avoid catastrophe. The authors outline how overall environmental crisis is now so severe as to be a global health emergency.

Medicine for a Changing Planet

Medicine for a Changing Planet, a collaboration between the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health and the University of Washington, offers a suite of case studies that highlight various clinical manifestations of environmental challenges – and skills that clinicians can develop to provide effective care for patients on a changing planet.

Early Years Climate Action Plan

Flourishing Children, Healthy Communities, and a Stronger Nation: The U.S. Early Years Climate Action Plan asks: How can the United States ensure the success and health of our young children, their families and caregivers, and our communities in the context of climate change? This resource offers ideas for childcare providers, federal, state, and local governments, and other stakeholders to consider policies and solutions that will help children from the prenatal phase through age 8 develop the foundation for thriving in a changing climate. Explore the website or visit the Executive Summary.

Racial Equity Tools: Environmental Justice

This collection of articles from Racial Equity Tools focuses on environmental justice, a movement that acknowledges how communities of color experience significantly more pollution, food deserts, and water shortages due to systemic racism entrenched in community planning and segregated neighborhoods. Articles and resources linked here are grouped under themes of analysis, water justice, history, current issues, organizing and activism, and more.

Climate for Health

Climate for Health is a national initiative led by a diverse network of health leaders from across the health sector representing key healthcare, public health, clinical, and medical institutions and associations. Founded by ecoAmerica, Climate for Health offers tools, resources, and communications to demonstrate visible climate leadership, inspiring and empowering health leaders to speak about, act on and advocate for climate solutions.

The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE)

Climate Change and Health Equity is a resource from the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity that offers an overview of current and increasing threats to human health and a selection of descriptive infographics.

They also publish The Climate and Health Outlook, an effort to inform health professionals and the public on how our health may be affected in the coming months by climate events and provide resources to take proactive action.

Environmental Protection Agency: Climate Equity and Environmental Justice

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers resources and grants to help governments, community leaders, and community members incorporate climate equity considerations in their work to address climate equity and environmental justice, defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

EJScreen: Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool

EJScreen is an environmental justice mapping and screening tool created by the EPA, based on nationally consistent data and an approach that combines environmental and demographic indicators in maps and reports. Choose a geographic area to view color-coded demographic socioeconomic and environmental information for that area, print reports, and compare how the area compares to the state or nation.

IPCC: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC prepares comprehensive Assessment Reports about the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for reducing the rate at which climate change is taking place. It has 4 working groups, including “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” and “Mitigation of Climate Change” and other ways to engage and contribute.

World Weather Attribution

The World Weather Attribution initiative was created to answer questions that arise when extreme weather events occur: is climate change to blame? Scientists working through this initiative quantify how climate change influences the intensity and likelihood of an extreme weather event, typically by using weather data and computer modelling, often immediately in the aftermath of the extreme event.

To encourage actions that will make communities and countries more resilient to future extreme weather events, WWA studies also evaluate how existing vulnerability worsened the impacts of the extreme weather event. The results are made public as soon as they are available, often days or weeks after the event, to inform discussions about climate change and extreme weather.

CDC/ATSDR Social Vulnerability Index

The Social Vulnerability Index is a tool developed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Social vulnerability refers to the potential negative effects on communities caused by external stresses on human health, including natural or human-caused disasters, or disease outbreaks. They offer an interactive map, downloadable data, and related publications.

Heat-Related EMS Activation Surveillance Dashboard

The Heat-Related EMS Activation Surveillance Dashboard, created in partnership between the HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity and the DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, uses nationally submitted Emergency Medical Services (EMS) data to track EMS responses to people experiencing heat-related emergencies in the pre-hospital setting. Explore the map and disparity tracker which displays data across segments of race, age, gender, and urbanicity, across factors such as “number of heat-related EMS activations” and “average EMS time to patient”.

Climate Change: Policy and Mitigation Factsheet

Through succinct bullet points and select charts, this factsheet from the University of Michigan offers climate change highlights related to intergovernmental agreements and targets, regulatory instruments, mitigation strategies, and individual actions.

Lancet Countdown

The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change is an international research collaboration that monitors and reports annually on the relationship between health and climate, and its implications for national governments.

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)is a 501(c)(3), Nobel Peace Prize-Winning non-profit organization that mobilizes physicians and health professionals to advocate for climate solutions and a nuclear-weapons-free world. PSR’s health advocates contribute a health voice to energy, environmental health, and nuclear weapons policy at the local, federal and international levels. Guided by the values and expertise of medicine and public health, PSR works to protect human life from the gravest threats to health and survival.

Practice Greenhealth

Practice Greenhealth aims to be the health care sector’s go-to source for information, tools, data, resources, and expert technical support on sustainability initiatives that help hospitals and health systems meet their health, financial, and community goals. Topics range from engaging hospital leadership in sustainability initiatives, greening the operating room, promoting environmentally conscious hospital design, eliminating or substituting harmful chemicals, reducing waste, and reducing water consumption.

My Green Doctor

My Green Doctor is a free resource intended to guide healthcare practices towards clinic sustainable environmental choices that will save money and make the office healthier. It offers 5-minute scripts and guides for collaborative office meetings, along with brochures, posters, and teaching tips for colleagues, staff, patients, and families.

GreenHealth Lab at UCSF

The GreenHealth lab at UCSF studies the interplay between healthcare delivery and climate change. They explore the impact of the healthcare system and health institutions on the environment, and the impact of climate change on clinical and patient care. Findings are intended to help shape mitigation and adaptation efforts, improving hospital sustainability and creating more resilient systems and healthy communities.

Medical Students for a Sustainable Future

Medical Students for a Sustainable Future (MS4SF) is dedicated to uniting medical students invested in the health of our planet and patients and providing them with tools to make a difference at their institutions and in their communities through advocacy, curriculum reform, research, and climate-smart health care.

MGH School of Nursing Center for Climate Change, Climate Justice, and Health

The Center for Climate Change, Climate Justice, and Health is a nursing-led initiative focuses on awareness, community engagement and advocacy with the intention to enable health care professionals to advocate on behalf of the world’s people in addressing the health consequences of climate change.