From the tropics to the arctic, climate and weather have powerful direct and indirect impacts on human life. Climate determines the way we live our lives, and has driven migration and morbidity patterns throughout human history. As a major determinant of ecological productivity climate underpins ecosystems services such as water security, agriculture and the marine food web. The globe is currently witnessing the early impacts of a new climate regime, one which heralds a wild ride in the future. Weather extremes – such as storms, floods, droughts, fires and heat waves – endanger health as well as destroy property and livelihoods, leaving whole communities in disarray and without services. In this talk I will trace climate’s influence on early hominids, the emergence of towns and cities, global migration, continuing to major population upheavals throughout the centuries. I then introduce some current impacts and finish with a taste of humanity’s future without mitigation.
Liz Hanna joined NCEPH, ANU in 2008 to Convene the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Network for Human Health. This worked encapsulated all projected Climate Change health threats facing the Australian population, estimating exposure risks and identifying policies and adaptation strategies to minimize health harm. Dr Hanna has been a Chief Investigator on several NHMRC Project grants investigating the health impacts of climate change, and she directed Australia’s largest project to quantify occupational heat exposures and health symptoms, and assess adaptation strategies. Her consultancies include assessing health vulnerabilities to climate change among the Pacific Island States, and for Australian State Health Departments. She is widely published and regularly sought to deliver national and international keynote addresses, and provide media comment on climate health risks, community resilience and health sector preparedness to climate change and climate disasters. Deeply committed to advocacy to protect human health Liz was the 2017 recipient of the PHAA Presidents Award has recently resigned her Presidency of the Climate and Health Alliance after 6 years at the helm. She is currently an Honorary Senior Fellow at the ANU Climate Change Institute.