Climate and Health Symposium Showcases Research by Scholars and Students
On April 7th, 2023, the University of Miami hosted the Climate and Health Symposium, a day-long event dedicated to showcasing the latest research on the intersection of climate change and human health. The symposium was organized by the university’s Institute for the Environment and featured presentations from scholars and students on a wide range of topics, including air pollution, vector-borne diseases, and the mental health impacts of climate change.
The event kicked off with opening remarks from the director of the Institute for the Environment, who emphasized the urgent need to address the health impacts of climate change. He noted that the latest research shows that climate change is already having significant effects on human health, including increased rates of respiratory illness, heat stroke, and malnutrition. He also highlighted the role that universities like the University of Miami can play in advancing research and educating the public about this critical issue.
The first session of the symposium focused on air pollution and its impacts on health.
One presenter discussed the effects of air pollution on children’s health, citing research that links exposure to pollutants like nitrogen oxides and particulate matter with increased rates of asthma, respiratory infections, and even developmental delays. Another presenter discussed the impact of air pollution on vulnerable populations, such as low-income communities and people of color, who are often disproportionately affected by poor air quality.
The second session of the symposium focused on vector-borne diseases, which are diseases transmitted by insects like mosquitoes and ticks.
One presenter discussed the increasing prevalence of diseases like dengue fever and West Nile virus, which are spread by mosquitoes and have been linked to climate change. Another presenter discussed the potential for new vector-borne diseases to emerge as a result of climate change, as rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns create new habitats for disease-carrying insects.
The final session of the symposium focused on the mental health impacts of climate change.
One presenter discussed the psychological effects of extreme weather events like hurricanes and wildfires, which can cause trauma and anxiety among affected communities. Another presenter discussed the potential for climate change to exacerbate existing mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, as people struggle to cope with the stress and uncertainty of a changing climate.
Throughout the day, the symposium also featured poster presentations from undergraduate and graduate students, showcasing their own research on the climate and health nexus. One poster, for example, presented research on the link between climate change and food insecurity in coastal communities, while another poster presented research on the health impacts of extreme heat waves in urban areas.
In addition to the presentations and poster sessions, the symposium also included a panel discussion featuring experts from academia, government, and the private sector. The panelists discussed the challenges of addressing the health impacts of climate change and highlighted potential solutions, such as investing in clean energy and promoting sustainable transportation.
Overall, the Climate and Health Symposium was a successful and informative event, showcasing the latest research on an urgent and complex issue. By bringing together scholars, students, and experts from a range of fields, the symposium highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of climate and health research and underscored the need for collaboration and innovation in addressing this critical issue.