For the third year in a row, public-health professionals and climate scientists from around the world are visiting Columbia University’s Lamont campus, where the International Research Institute for Climate and Society is based, to learn how to use climate information to make better decisions for health-care planning and disease prevention. They’re taking part in the third Summer Institute on Climate Information for Public Health, organized by IRI, in partnership with the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) and Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.
World leaders have grown increasingly concerned with finding ways to adapt to climate change and climate variability, which threatens the stability of many facets of life, such as energy, food, and water. Climate also affects the fundamental requirements for good health. The public health community recognizes the need to better understand climate’s role as a driver of infectious diseases such as malaria and meningitis, as well as its potential to change the geographic distribution of disease.
“Droughts, floods, changing rainfall and temperature patterns-these all can have severe impacts on public health, especially in developing countries,” says senior research scientist Madeleine Thomson. “They also often disrupt food production and limit access to safe drinking water, which in turn can make people sick and undernourished,” she says.
By understanding climate, its associated impacts and its potential predictability, decision makers can start responding proactively. “The IRI has its roots in strong climate science, with a goal to enhance society’s ability to understand and manage climate-related risks. That’s why we’re excited to again host a summer institute, bringing together a talented group of participants and our expert staff to explore the most effective ways to use climate information in decision making,” Thomson says.
Read the full story at the IRI web site.