The consequences of global climate change are, and will continue to be, felt at regional and local scales. A recent comprehensive assessment of the current and predicted effects of climate change on the US southwest was recent released by a consortium of institutions in the region. USC professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Spatial Sciences Institute Darren Ruddell contributed to the assessment of impacts on human health.
Ruddell’s research in urban climate and climatic extremes positioned him to contribute to the multi-author synthesis. Some key findings of the assessment are:
- Climatic changes already entrained will result in additional human exposure to particulate matter from wildfires, and an increase in exposure to diseases carried by insects and rodents;
- Vulnerable populations (elderly, infirm, and poor) will be at increased risk from climate change such as heat-related illness and increased air pollution because they lack resources to prepare for extreme climatic events; and
- These adverse impacts could be reduced through adaptation plans that are tailored to specific areas within the Southwest.
Key strategies to prepare for climate change include increased surveillance for vector-borne disease, public education campaigns, provision of cooling centers for at-risk populations, and appropriate measures to reduce exposure to vectors, especially for outdoor workers.
Ruddell teaches in Spatial Sciences Institute, delivering instruction both online in the GIST MS/Cerfificate program, and in person for undergraduate programs including the newly established BS in GeoDesign.
For more information about Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States, see:www.swcarr.arizona.edu, www.cakex.org, www.islandpress.org/NCAreports. An information sheet about health impacts is available.