Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study shows escalating climate change impacts

02.11.2005


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 study’s 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.


"As a reinsurance company, our goal is to evaluate and plan for the long-term." said Jacques Dubois, Chairman of Swiss Re America Holding Corporation. The parent company, Swiss Re, is a leading global reinsurance company and a co-sponsor of the study. Dubois continued, "Swiss Re has an ongoing effort to focus on potential economic impacts of climate change. This study adds to this by helping to review areas of increased vulnerability to climate change from a unique perspective. Whereas most discussions on climate change impacts hone in on the natural sciences, with little to no mention of potential economic consequences, this report provides a crucial look at physical and economic aspects of climate change. It also assesses current risks and potential business opportunities that can help minimize future risks."

There are 10 case studies within the report, written by scientific experts, that outline current effects of climate change with regard to infectious diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus, Lyme disease and asthma; extreme weather events such as heat waves and floods; and ecosystems such as forests, agriculture, marine habitat and water. Economic implications as well as possible near-future impacts are projected for each case.

The study shows that warming and extreme weather affect the breeding and range of disease vectors such as mosquitoes responsible for malaria, which currently kills 3,000 African children a day, and West Nile virus, which costs the US $500 million in 1999. Lyme disease, the most widespread vector-borne disease, is currently increasing in North America as winters warm and ticks proliferate. The study notes that the area suitable for tick habitat will increase by 213% by the 2080s. The report also finds that ragweed pollen growth, stimulated by increasing levels of carbon dioxide, may be contributing to the rising incidence of asthma.

Charles McNeill, Environment Programme Manager for the United Nations Development Programme, a co-sponsor of the study, pointed out that these costs will fall disproportionately on developing nations. "While developed nations are not immune to the impacts of climate change, those populations that are already struggling with myriad social challenges will bear the greatest brunt of climate change," said Dr. McNeill.

Background

The CCF project stemmed from a common concern of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, Swiss Re and the United Nations Development Programme. This concern was centered on the emerging threats to health from climate change and the implications of diseases of humans and Earth’s life-support systems for economies and development. Unique aspects of the study include:

  • Integration of corporate stakeholders in the assessment process
  • Combined focus on physical, biological and economic impacts
  • Anticipation of short-term impacts, rather than century-scaled projections
  • Scenarios of plausible futures with gradual and step-wise change
  • A framework to deal with and plan for climate-related surprise impacts

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 Re’s 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!
Further information:
http://www.hms.harvard.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>