In April, Mayor Bill de Blasio released One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City, highlighting the crucial need to take increasing climate risks into account in all New York City capital investments. Dr. Patrick Kinney, director of the Mailman School of Public Health’s Program on Climate and Health, was lead author on the chapter addressing health impacts, summarizing the scientific knowledge on climate-related health hazards that could inform ongoing preparedness planning.
“While New York City is one of the best prepared and most climate resilient cities in the world, the city can still be vulnerable when extreme weather strikes,” said Dr. Kinney, lead author and professor of Environmental Health Sciences who also serves on New York City’s third New York City Panel on Climate Change. “Recent experience from Hurricane Sandy and other extreme events has clearly demonstrated that the health of New Yorkers can be compromised by extreme coastal storm and heat events including direct loss of life, increases in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and compromised mental health.”
As part of the New York City Panel on Climate Change process, the team of local climate and health specialists assessed current vulnerabilities and identified strategies that could enhance the resilience of New York City to adverse health impacts from climate events. The goal was to highlight, based on emerging scientific understanding, some of the important climate-related health challenges that New York City is currently facing or may face in the future due to climate variability and change.
Among Dr. Kinney’s recommendations:
Dr. Kinney and colleagues also stress the importance of enhancing communications to vulnerable populations and neighborhoods and leveraging local community-based organizations, social networks, and business leaders in designing effective targeted responses. He also suggests developing ongoing partnerships between local university researchers and city practitioners, recognizing that information needs will evolve over time.