Following up on the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup’s recent Climate Change Impacts to Health Forum, the Valley News reported on the productive discussion and information sharing that took place during the evening.
Though the event began with education around how the climate is changing in our region, presenter Erich Osterberg, a climatologist at Dartmouth College, encouraged attendees not to get lost in the statistics. He emphasized that seemingly small temperature and precipitation changes can have lasting impacts on the environment and on the health of those living in the Upper Valley. The forum, as Rich Jurgens of the Valley News reported, was convened “not to debate the reality of climate change, but to prepare for it.”
Presentations following the climate overview by Osterberg included reports from Matt Cahillane of the Climate and Health Program in New Hampshire and Jared Ulmer of the Vermont Climate Change Adaptation Program, which outlined current efforts to build resilience to climate effects in the two states. Public Health Council Coordinator Alice Ely also presented the PHC’s Climate and Health Adaptation Plan, and introduced a pilot project that will be run over the summer to begin to address the needs of older adults during extreme heat events. Older adults, who are especially vulnerable to heat related health issues, are a rapidly growing sector of the Upper Valley’s population. Ely says that the PHC hopes the pilot project will help establish strategies that will work for our region to inform future initiatives, and that it will begin to address a current need area at the same time.
The forum was attended by municipal leaders, emergency preparedness personnel, public health and medical professionals, social service providers and passionate community members. With several opportunities for audience members to give feedback and engage in discussion with presenters and each other, the forum was a tangible first step in building the community based networks that will be necessary to address climate change impacts in the Upper Valley.