Preparing for the Health Impacts of a Changing Climate

Blog | September 15, 2020


Over the past century, humans have changed the climate of the Earth, and North Carolina has been no exception. While providers are not yet reporting direct clinical symptoms resulting from climate change, the indirect impacts to public health are beginning to pile up.


In the latest issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal, authors from across the state examine the effects of extreme heat, more frequent hurricanes, and flooding that North Carolina communities have already experienced. They also look ahead, to how a hotter, wetter, and more humid North Carolina may impact residents’ health, including an increase in vector-borne diseases (mosquitos love humidity) long-term mental health impacts, disparate health outcomes in low-income communities, increased wildfires, and more.


“Mitigation and adaptability strategies are necessary for reducing carbon emissions and building climate-resilient communities,” writes guest editor Gregory D. Kearney, DrPH, MPH, of East Carolina University. “Policymakers and health care providers are in key positions for educating others, helping protect our planet, improving health outcomes, and moving North Carolina toward more sustainable solutions.”


Click on the links below to read each article in this issue. Click here for the full table of contents.



Intro: Where There is No Debate by Editor-in-Chief Peter J. Morris, MD


Issue Brief: Preparing for the Health Impacts of a Changing Climate by Gregory D. Kearney, DrPH, MPH



Commentaries & Sidebars


A Hotter, Wetter, and More Humid North Carolina by Kathie Dello, PhD, Walter Robinson, PhD, Ken Kunkel, PhD, Jenny Dissen, MS, and Tom Maycock, MLA


Sidebar – Hurricanes and Public Health Preparedness: Meeting the Challenge by Phillip E. Tarte, MHA


Calor Extremo: On the Frontlines of Climate Change with North Carolina Farmworkers by Gregory D. Kearney, DrPH, MPH, and Lariza Garzon, MBA


Resilience, Self-compassion, and Mental Health Outcomes: Rebuilding Eastern North Carolina After Natural Disasters by C. Suzanne Lea, PhD, MPH, Heather Littleton, PhD, Ashley Batts Allen, PhD, and Cherry M. Beasley, PhD, MS, RN


Sidebar – Storm Recovery is Possible: “From the Inside Out” by Dawn Baldwin Gibson, PhD, MA


Wildfire Smoke: Opportunities for Cooperation Among Health Care, Public Health, and Land Management to Protect Patient Health by Gail Robarge, MS, Stacey Katz, MPH, and Wayne E. Cascio, MD, FACC


Vector-borne Diseases and Climate Change: North Carolina’s Policy Should Promote Regional Resilience by Brian Byrd, PhD, MSPH, Stephanie L. Richards, PhD, MSEH, Jennifer D. Runkle, PhD, MSPH, and Margaret M. Sugg, PhD, MA


Climate and Health in Cities: A Challenge for the Built Environment by Traci Rose Rider, PhD


Sidebar – Health Benefits of North Carolina’s Transition to Clean Energy by Virginia T. Guidry, PhD, Lauren Thie, MPH, and E. Benjamin Money, Jr., MPH


Health Care in a Changing North Carolina Climate by Stan Meiburg, PhD and Suzanne Lazorick, MD, MPH





Spotlight on the Safety Net: The Food Bank’s Role in Disaster Relief and Historic Response to Hurricane Florence by Jessica Slider-Whichard, BA, Jennifer Caslin, BS, CNPM, and Lindsay Humbert, BA