A New York Times Green blog entry by Dylan Walsh explains that meteorological and ecological shifts driven by climate change are creating an unpredictable range of novel public health challenges.
“Vulnerabilities change tremendously by location,” said Dr. Luber, who cited the different risk profiles of Boston, Miami and Phoenix as an example. So the C.D.C. is working with 18 states to develop regional adaptation plans for emerging public health risks. That involves integrating environmental data like surface temperature and land-use type with social and economic data to create a map of future public health vulnerabilities.
The diversity of the threats also makes it challenging to set priorities for response and adaptation plans. It is difficult, for example, to rank the public health risk of stronger hurricanes against the risk of cardiovascular complications from prolonged heat. “One is an acute intense disaster, the other an insidious chronic impact of heat stress,” Dr. Balbus said. “It’s very hard to compare these two.”