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Climate Health Master Class- Open Access & On Demand

The threat of climate change in now well-recognized as one of the greatest challenges we will face as a society in the coming decades.  Yet despite, the valid and growing concern, and efforts to enact more sustainable practices, one of the most devastating impacts of climate change is still widely under-recognized and under-studied-- that is, the impacts to human health.

While most climate discussion centers around how to slow the progression of climate change (which is indeed an important piece of the puzzle), it is equally important that we understand how existing and predicted climate changes cause disease in various contexts, to guide public health measures that will prevent the loss of human life in the event of inevitable climate-fueled disasters.

Therefore, Keystone Symposia has partnered with the Global Consortium for Climate and Health Education to provide a "Master Class" in Climate Health, to educate scientists around the world about the impacts of climate change to individuals, communities and healthcare systems.

This series features field leaders in various aspects of climate change and human health, focusing on how different types of extreme weather events and patterns cause both acute, and chronic, morbidities and mortality. From infectious diseases, to asthma, heart attacks, strokes, neurodegeneration and more, we will explore how climate change increases the incidence of practically all forms of human disease.

Examining health impacts from the cellular, to the patient to epidemiological  levels, we will hear from scientists, clinicians and public health policy experts to generate an integrated and comprehensive picture of health threats posed by climate change. In addition, we will consider how to establish early-warning systems and implement interventions to protect vulnerable individuals and populations without the resources to protect themselves.

Ultimately, we aim to educate and inspire our audience to get involved in climate health research and take action locally, and globally, to mitigate the toll of climate change on human health.


Watch the Climate Health Master Class Lectures below on:



Overview of Climate Change and Impacts on Health: Part I

Caleb Dresser, MD

Health Impacts from Extreme Heat

Rupa Basu, PhD, California Environmental Protection Agency

Extreme heat and ambient heat exposure due to climate change are causing rising death tolls in recent years around the world, with recent incidences in California, the Oregon, India, England, and Australia as examples.  Heat impacts all organs in the body and exacerbates underlying medical conditions, particularly cardiovascular disease, triggering emergency room visits, hospitalizations and death in vulnerable populations.  The elderly, pregnant women, African-Americans and poor communities are most vulnerable to negative health outcomes.


Climate Change and Harmful Algal Blooms

Nara Souza, MSc, Brain Chemistry Labs

Many naturally occurring algal species and genera are important to the environment. When favorable conditions exist, they can bloom to form mass populations that pose significant risks to human and animal health. Some of these organisms are capable of producing highly potent toxins, which can cause acute health issues, from rashes to vomiting, fever, liver failure and even death, as well as long term health consequences such as neurologic issues and cancers.

Climate change is increasing the likelihood of such toxic blooms due to higher temperatures, droughts, severe weather and desertification as examples. To mitigate such problems, we need tools to help understand the impacts of climate changes on algal blooms, to build strategies to manage and minimize harmful algal blooms.


Read more on Harmful Algal Blooms and Detection of Toxins:


Climate Change and Cascading Risks from Waterborne Diseases

Jan C. Semenza, PhD, University of Heidelberg

Climate change can trigger a series of events with consequences for waterborne diseases. Heavy rainfall, flooding and hot weather are associated with increased incidence of waterborne diseases like cholera, vibrio spp., cryptosporidium, giardia and campylobacter.  Early warning systems that monitor and integrate climatic and/or environmental precursors of disease prior to outbreaks are important to develop public health strategies to intercept cascading risks and prevent subsequent waterborne disease outbreaks.


The Role of Climate Change in Affecting Women's Health

Tracy Cushing, MD

Due to their unique physiology, women are more susceptible to negative effects of heat stress, air pollution and other aspects of climate change. Pregnant women are at particularly high risk, and premature birth, low birth weight, gestational hypertension and preclampsia are among the negative outcomes associated with heat waves and other climate events. 

Women also suffer indirect consequences of climate change-- social upheavals and migration driven by climate events like drought result in sexual and domestic violence, exploitation, human trafficking, and exchange of sex for resources.  Meanwhile, those who remain in their communities are impacted by food and water insecurity to a greater extent as de-prioritized members of society.

It is critical to include women in climate action plans to mitigate these gender-based health disparities, as well as to include women in climate policy planning as powerful agents of social change within and across communities.

Climate Change, Food Insecurity & the HIV Epidemic

Andrea Low, MD PhD

This talk explores the pathways by which climate change impacts human health, and how it might directly and indirectly increase HIV transmission. Using data from the Population-based HIV Impact Assessments, large national surveys conducted in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, we show the relationship between drought, food insecurity and HIV risk behaviors, particularly in women.



Climate Change and Health: Impacts, Disparities and Necessary Actions Inaugural ePanel

Climate change is having widespread impacts on human health and has been called “the greatest health threat of the 21st century.” In this inaugural event of the Keystone Symposia and the Global Consortium for Climate Health and Education ePanel Series Climate Change and Human Health: Threats, Disparities and Necessary Actions, we provide a broad overview of current knowledge regarding the existential problem of climate change and human health. Through case examples, we  explore how climate related exposures – such as extreme heat, wildfires, drought and extreme weather events – exact disproportionate health tolls on vulnerable populations worldwide. Experts  discuss and debate how and why climate justice and equity must be at the core of our efforts to address the climate crisis.

Specifically, we  cover climate health in the context of high-risk populations, including African nations, indigenous peoples, persons living with disabilities, women, mothers and children. We gain perspectives from clinicians, researchers, journal editors, educators, non-profit foundation leaders and public health policy experts to holistically assess these challenges and identify ways the scientific community can get involved and take action against these impacts and inequities. From personal efforts to institutional initiatives, we aim to inspire audiences to become ambassadors within their own communities for climate health research, education and sustainability.


Find out more about the panelists HERE!

See more upcoming Climate Health ePanels in the Series!


More Climate Medicine SciTalks Coming Soon!

  • Climate Change Health Impact Projections
  • Ozone, Oppressive Air Masses and Degraded Air Quality
  • Health Co-Benefits of Climate Mitigation Strategies
  • & more!

These SciTalks and ePanel events made possible in collaboration with:



You might also be interested in:

Carbon Literacy and Climate Action Course

This course is accredited by The Carbon Literacy Project and aimed at
researchers, staff, and students working in academic / research / higher
education institutions. During the course each participant develops
their own action plan to reduce carbon emissions in their professional
sphere of influence. Action plans are evaluated by the Carbon Literacy
Project and participants can earn a certificate of 'carbon literacy'.





Shannon Weiman
Shannon Weiman earned her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, specializing in microbiology and immunology. Prior to joining the Keystone Symposia team, she worked as a freelance writer for leaders in academic, industry and government research, including Stanford University’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative, the University of Colorado’s Biofrontiers Program, UCSF, the FDA and the American Society for Microbiology.