The Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, along with co-sponsors Swiss Re and the United Nations Development Programme, today released a study showing that climate change will significantly affect the health of humans and ecosystems and these impacts will have economic consequences. The study, entitled "Climate Change Futures: Health, Ecological and Economic Dimensions," surveys existing and future costs associated with climate change and the growing potential for abrupt, widespread impacts. The study reports that the insurance industry will be at the center of this issue, absorbing risk and helping society and business to adapt and reduce new risks.
"We found that impacts of climate change are likely to lead to ramifications that overlap in several areas including our health, our economy and the natural systems on which we depend," said Dr. Paul Epstein, the studys lead author and Associate Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. "A comparable event would be the aftermath of flooding, contamination and homelessness witnessed after Hurricane Katrina hit the US Gulf coast in August. Analysis of the potential ripple effects stemming from an unstable climate shows the need for more sustainable practices to safeguard and insure a healthy future."
The CCF study is comprised of three primary elements: trends, case studies and scenarios, which detail and analyze current climate change related consequences for human health, ecological systems and the global economy. Through two potential scenarios, the CCF report examines possible impacts of climate change that may impose severe strains on the financial sector.
n September 2003, a Scoping Conference for the CCF project was held at the United Nations in New York and involved more than 80 participants from multiple scientific disciplines, corporations, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations. Through the initial deliberations, follow-up workshops and teleconferences, a set of case studies and impact scenarios was developed.
In June 2004, a conference and Executive Roundtable were held at Swiss Res Centre for Global Dialogue at Rüschlikon near Zurich, Switzerland. This gathering expanded the reach of the project to include more representatives from the financial sector, allowing deeper exploration of the links between health, environmental and economic consequences of the changing climate. Risks and opportunities were addressed, as were policies and measures commensurate with the magnitude of the possible futures envisioned.
In August 2004, a follow-up workshop was facilitated to standardize the methodology for the case studies and scenarios. The resulting study was released today at the American Museum of Natural History.
John Lacey | EurekAlert!
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