US Climate and Health Alliance

Climate Change and the Public’s Health: The Coming Crisis for the U.S. Gulf Coast


This paper reviews the scientific consensus as to how climate change will affect human health on a global scale and describes the limited, emerging research findings concerning climate change health impacts along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Through myriad pathways, climate change is likely to make the Gulf Coast less hospitable and more dangerous for Americans, and may prompt substantial migration from and into the region. The paper also summarizes the primary prescriptions and adaptations found in the public health literature for meeting climate change‘s threats to human health, along with several recent findings that America‘s state and local public health agencies recognize the approaching problems but lack the resources to make climate change preparedness, education, needs assessment or adaptation high priorities. It also should be noted that several factors besides climate change are converging to exacerbate the fragility of this region, including coastal erosion and subsidence and the ongoing threat of energy infrastructure failure (such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill catastrophe). This paper provides a comprehensive survey of current U.S. federal government activities—as yet uncoordinated and inadequately funded—to elucidate the public health implications of climate change and to help all levels of government create the tools and institutional structures necessary to adapt to the coming crisis. Finally, it considers pending legislation and executive branch actions to jump start public health adaptation to climate change.

Resource Type
Irwin E. Redlener Derrin Culp
Resource URL
Short Title
Climate Change and the Public's Health
Columbia University Academic Commons
Organization Type
Climate adaptation/resilience

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