The warning in this issue of Continuum is a stark one. But it’s a warning that’s worth making, and worth heeding. According to leading scientific experts, it is not too late to cap rising temperatures at 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. Bu tit will take a massive global effort to avoid devastating physical impacts to our coastal communities and infrastructure. Less obvious perhaps, in the wake of the massive property damage extreme storms have recently brought, is the human toll of our changing climate, especially on our most vulnerable populations.
In this issue, you’ll read about the special risks to nursing home residents in the path of increasing and increasingly violent hurricanes. You’ll also read about the effects of rising heat on health and mortality. More importantly, you’ll read about the work being done in the School of Public Health to address the pressing challenges of climate change.
In public health, we know that good health does not happen in a vacuum. Where we live, the air we breathe, and the spaces where we play, all impact the quality of our health.
The School’s Center for Environmental Health and Technology includes faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and students alike engaged in assessing the health impacts of our changing climate. They are also studying the health risks posed by air pollution, and by chemicals in common products we use every day. Important research is also being done on the ways the built environment effects our health. What impact does access to green space, or proximity to highways have on our health? How does the neighborhood environment impact pregnancy outcomes? In public health, we know that good health does not happen in a vacuum. Where we live, the air we breathe, and the spaces where we play, all impact the quality of our health.
I’m proud that the School of Public is taking a leadership role at Brown in the field of environmental health. From our changing climate, to our neighborhood environment, from pollution in the air to the chemical soup we are exposed to everyday, research is underway to understand the health risks these environmental factors pose, and to protect population health by reducing these risks. Community partnerships are in place to facilitate policy action locally,nationally, and globally. And training and mentorship are actively engaged in supporting the creation of future environmental health leaders who will face the challenges that lie ahead. The extent of those challenges, is up to us.
Bess H. Marcus, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Public Health