A Year of Climate Action
IN THIS ISSUE:
THE 6TH IPCC REPORT: What we know about climate change and what we can do about it
PLUS: Announcements from our partners, what we’re reading… and trivia!
The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released on August 9. This much is clear from reading the report: human-caused carbon dioxide emissions have warmed the climate in every inhabited region across the globe. Since the fifth IPCC report was published in 2014, climate scientists can now more precisely, and with a much higher level of certainty, attribute increases in the frequency of extreme weather events, heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and flooding to human actions, in particular the burning of fossil fuels.
The truth is, you don’t need to read AR6 (the full report is 1,300 pages long) or have a Ph.D. in climate science to know that climate change is here: you can just look out your window. This summer we saw heat waves obliterating all-time records and killing hundreds of people in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. Potentially the worst drought in 1,200 years grips much of the Western U.S., putting farmers and ranchers in crisis and creating prime conditions for widespread, prolonged, and severe wildfires. Louisiana communities are just now facing the enormous task of cleaning up and recovering from climate change-fueled Hurricane Ida, which caused severe flooding and knocked out power for more than a million people, bringing the prospect of weeks without electricity during the South’s sweltering late summer.
AR6 tells us that global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. This sounds grim and definitely alarming. But we can’t spiral into despair; there is so much we can still do. If we can significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, within years we can experience discernible differences in global surface temperatures and air quality, which can measurably improve our health. And, knowing what we know, which is that climate change is a problem that’s going to be with us for the foreseeable future, we need to focus major research, advocacy, and education efforts to helping communities and individuals adapt and become more resilient. On the national level, we received some good news this week on this front: HHS has established the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, which is tasked with “protect[ing] vulnerable communities who disproportionately bear the brunt of pollution and climate-driven disasters, such as drought and wildfires, at the expense of public health.” The new office promises to foster innovation in climate adaptation and resilience for disadvantaged communities. Certainly, AR6 paints a picture of a protracted crisis in which adaptation and resilience-building are absolutely necessary for communities everywhere.
This month, we especially want to remind our readers in California that voting is one of the most effective ways to influence our government’s doings on climate (or lack thereof). No matter which way you plan to vote in California’s gubernatorial recall election, we encourage you to consider climate and the health of communities as you cast your ballot.
Michael Jerrett wins 2021 Excellence in Exposure Science Award
The International Society of Exposure Science (ISES) has awarded the 2021 Excellence in Exposure Science Award to Dr. Michael Jerrett. The award recognizes Dr. Jerrett’s work at the nexus of public and environmental health, including his research on the impact of air pollution on human health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Report: “Mental Health Effects Of Wildfire Smoke, Solastalgia, and Non-Traditional Firefighters”
Following a meeting at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, C-Solutions has partnered with Climate Resolve to shed light on the mental and physical health impacts of wildfires and smoke. Led by Dr. David Eisenman, the team published a report on the mental health impacts of wildfire smoke, “solastalgia” from wildfires, and impacts on civilian and inmate firefighters. Solastalgia is defined as the lived experience of stress from the loss of a familiar landscape and can overlap with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, grief, and other emotional and mental impacts of climate change and natural disaster. The team found that there is little existing research focusing on the mental health impacts of wildfire smoke, especially the impacts on inmate firefighters and residents who do not evacuate during a fire and instead stay to protect their home. This report can help spur more research into these vulnerable populations as the threat of wildfires becomes more severe.
Dr. Eisenman was invited to talk about the team’s findings by several national and local news outlets, including the New York Times, U.S. News, American Heart Association News, Southern California News Group, and Fox 11 Los Angeles.
Miriam Marlier receives inaugural Google research award
C-Solutions associate Dr. Miriam Marlier has received one of the first awards in Google’s newly launched Research Scholar Program, for a research project designed to use satellite data to better understand California’s vulnerability to multiple climate hazards. The project, Mapping California’s Compound Climate Hazards in Google Earth Engine, geolocates compound climate hazards in California—such as when people are exposed not just to extreme heat, but to smoke from wildfires as well. Using remote sensing-based tools, Dr. Marlier’s team aims to better understand how the overlapping issues affect people’s health in order to inform policy decisions in the state.
FROM THE BLOG
A Year of Climate Action
September 2 marks one year since we officially launched C-Solutions. In this blog post, we look back on some of the ways we made a difference in the areas of research, community partnerships, education, and communication during our center’s first year. We are as committed as ever to better understanding how climate change affects everyone’s health and how we can protect communities and help people to adapt to adverse changes in the environment.
FROM OUR PARTNERS
Climate Health Organizing Fellows Program
Our partners at the Center for Health Equity Education and Advocacy have announced the Climate Health Organizing Fellows Program. For our readers who are clinical healthcare providers, and their partners in public health and community-based organizations, we encourage you to apply to this tuition-free, robust, action-oriented program. Applications open September 8, 2021, and you can be the first to be notified by signing up for their mailing list here.
Ecosystem Health Report Card for Los Angeles County
In July, the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge hosted a launch event for its Ecosystem Health Report Card for Los Angeles County—the region’s most comprehensive evaluation of ecosystem health and proposed strategies and actions to move us toward a more sustainable Los Angeles. The authors discussed how Los Angeles County scored in four major categories: land use and habitat quality, biodiversity, threats to ecosystem health, community health and well-being. Key county stakeholders joined in a panel discussion on the potential uses of this report card for conservation and community benefits, and what is needed to ensure the prosperity of biodiversity and Angelenos moving forward. A recording of the session is available here.
WHAT WE’RE READING
The unjust toll of extreme heat - Los Angeles Times
We’re hitting the limits of hurricane preparedness - The Atlantic
Air Pollution as a Social and Structural Determinant of Health - The Journal of Climate Change and Health
🔥THE THIRD DEGREE🔥
Lightning trivia for non-trivial times
What is considered by the United Nations to be the single greatest environmental risk to human health and one of the main avoidable causes of death and disease globally, causing an estimated 6.5 million premature deaths across the world each year?
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Join C-Solutions as we put solutions to work, fill the research gaps, train future leaders in this multi-disciplinary field, and inform decision makers to advance policy change to ensure health for all in an era of climate change.