PHS Monday Seminar Featuring Vijay Limaye, PhD

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WARF Room 726
@ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Costs of Inaction: The Underappreciated Health and Economic Burdens of Climate Change

Abstract: Climate change is a dangerous and costly problem, and it threatens much more than just property values and infrastructure: it’s fueling substantial and sometimes irreversible damage to public health in terms of illnesses, injuries, expensive medical bills, and premature deaths. A wealth of scientific research indicates that absent stronger action, climate change will contribute to an extraordinary rise in a wide variety of health problems and demand for medical care in hospitals and emergency rooms in the U.S. Climate change is a “threat multiplier” that is worsening existing health and economic burdens, particularly for the most vulnerable among us, including children, low-income communities, people coping with pre-existing health conditions, and people of color. This is especially worrisome given that more than half of U.S. adults currently report medical financial hardship—that is, the inability to afford medical care, no matter how necessary it is. This session will review emerging research on the health-related economic costs of climate change hazards in recent years, focusing on the range of costs associated with medical care, lost work wages, outpatient care, and prescription medications. Integration of publicly-available climate, health, and economic data can enable improved understanding of underappreciated economic consequences of climate change, and help to motivate actions to address climate change that will reduce costly health burdens.

Learning Objectives
• Define and identify climate-sensitive human health hazards
• Identify economic burdens related to climate-sensitive healthcare needs
• Understand how economic assessments of climate change impacts are assembled and how public health impacts can be considered
• Identify publicly-available datasets that are used to estimate climate-related health and economic burdens
• Understand how climate change mitigation and adaptation actions can deliver health and economic benefits
• Recognize the range of disciplinary approaches, data sources, and methods needed to characterize climate-related health and economic burdens

Bio: Dr. Vijay Limaye is a Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences, UW-Madison. As an epidemiologist, he is broadly interested in addressing international environmental health challenges—quantifying, communicating, and reducing the risks associated with climate change—with a focus on the public health burdens of air pollution and extreme heat. At NRDC, he leads economic valuation research and advocacy to understand and address the significant health costs of climate change and he works to defend the science that underpins the Clean Air Act. Prior to joining NRDC, he worked as a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientist, focusing on Clean Air Act regulatory implementation, air quality monitoring policy, and health risk communication. Limaye, who also speaks Spanish and Hindi, has led multiple research studies on the health impacts of climate change, including analyses of air pollution and extreme heat in both the U.S. and India. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a PhD in environmental epidemiology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.