Project - IJHS Special Section on Health and Climate Change

International Journal of Health Services Special Section on Health and Climate Change

International Journal of Health Services Special Section on Health and Climate Change
The International Journal of Health Services published a series of articles on Health and Climate Change in 2015-16, with authors including members of the JHU-UPF Public Policy Center research group on Climate.

Burning Fossil Fuels: Impact of Climate Change on Health
By Al Sommer


A recent, sophisticated granular analysis of climate change in the United States related to burning fossil fuels indicates a high likelihood of dramatic increases in temperature, wet-bulb temperature, and precipitation, which will dramatically impact the health and well-being of many Americans, particularly the young, the elderly, and the poor and marginalized. Other areas of the world, where they lack the resources to remediate these weather impacts, will be even more greatly affected. Too little attention is being paid to the impending health impact of accumulating greenhouse gases.

Issue: International Journal of Health Services January 2016 46: 48-52, first published on December 30, 2015 doi:10.1177/0020731415625253


Public Health Adaptation to Climate Change in Large Cities: A Global Baseline
By Malcolm Araos, Stephanie E. Austin, Lea Berrang-Ford, and James D. Ford


Climate change will have significant impacts on human health, and urban populations are expected to be highly sensitive. The health risks from climate change in cities are compounded by rapid urbanization, high population density, and climate-sensitive built environments. Local governments are positioned to protect populations from climate health risks, but it is unclear whether municipalities are producing climate-adaptive policies. In this article, we develop and apply systematic methods to assess the state of public health adaptation in 401 urban areas globally with more than 1 million people, creating the first global baseline for urban public health adaptation. We find that only 10% of the sampled urban areas report any public health adaptation initiatives. The initiatives identified most frequently address risks posed by extreme weather events and involve direct changes in management or behavior rather than capacity building, research, or long-term investments in infrastructure. Based on our characterization of the current urban health adaptation landscape, we identify several gaps: limited evidence of reporting of institutional adaptation at the municipal level in urban areas in the Global South; lack of information-based adaptation initiatives; limited focus on initiatives addressing infectious disease risks; and absence of monitoring, reporting, and evaluation.

Issue: International Journal of Health Services January 2016 46: 53-78, first published on December 24, 2015 doi:10.1177/0020731415621458


Extreme Weather-driven Disasters and Children's Health
By Daniel Martinez Garcia and Mary C. Sheehan


Extreme weather events such as heat waves, extreme precipitation, and storm surges are likely to become more frequent and intense with climate change. Extreme weather-driven disasters (EWDDs) cause a substantial burden of childhood mortality and morbidity worldwide. We reviewed the published literature on EWDDs and their health impacts on children, and developed a conceptual model based on complex systems thinking to identify the health risks, vulnerabilities, and capacities of children in the context of EWDDs as a means of informing areas for adaptive intervention. We found that direct and indirect physical and mental impacts of EWDDs on child health are abundant and interrelate in complex ways. The literature review and modeling demonstrated the centrality of resilience at the level of the child and his or her direct environment, suggesting that mental health status may play a key role in a child's experience of numerous other health outcomes of EWDDs. EWDDs interact with environmental and social systems and with individual children and their contexts in complex ways, the impacts of which are nonlinear and difficult to predict. Traditional perspectives on climate change-driven health impacts often overlook complex bio-psychosocial interactions, suggesting a need to work on preventive strategies to reduce vulnerability and build individual child resilience.

Issue: International Journal of Health Services January 2016 46: 79-105, first published on December 30, 2015 doi:10.1177/0020731415625254


Climate change and health in the urban context: the experience of Barcelona.
By Joan Villalbí and Irma Ventayol


Climate change poses huge challenges for public health, and cities are at the forefront of this process. The purpose of this paper is to present the issues climate change poses for public health in the city of Barcelona, how they are being addressed, and what are the current major challenges, trying to contribute to the development of a baseline understanding of the status of adaptation in cities from a public health perspective. The major issues related to climate change faced by the city are common to other urban centers in a Mediterranean climate: heat waves, water availability and quality, air quality, and diseases transmitted by vectors, and all are reviewed in detail with empirical data. They are not a potential threat for the future, but have actually challenged the city services and infrastructure over the last years, requiring sustainable responses and rigorous planning.

Issue: International Journal of Health Services, July 2016, 46(3), 389–405, First Published on July 7, 2016. DOI:

Al Sommer

Malcolm Araos, Stephanie E. Austin, Lea Berrang-Ford, and James D. Ford

Daniel Martinez Garcia and Mary C. Sheehan

Joan Villalbí and Irma Ventayol