James D. Ford is with the Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec. Ashlee Cunsolo Willox is with the Department of Community Health, Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia. Susan Chatwood is with the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Christopher Furgal is with the Department of Indigenous Environmental Studies, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario. Sherilee Harper is with the Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Ontario. Ian Mauro is with the Department of Geography, University of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Tristan Pearce is with the University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydor, Queensland, Australia.
Climate change will have far-reaching implications for Inuit health. Focusing on adaptation offers a proactive approach for managing climate-related health risks-one that views Inuit populations as active agents in planning and responding at household, community, and regional levels. Adaptation can direct attention to the root causes of climate vulnerability and emphasize the importance of traditional knowledge regarding environmental change and adaptive strategies. An evidence base on adaptation options and processes for Inuit regions is currently lacking, however, thus constraining climate policy development. In this article, we tackled this deficit, drawing upon our understanding of the determinants of health vulnerability to climate change in Canada to propose key considerations for adaptation decision-making in an Inuit context.
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Climate change is increasingly recognized as one of the greatest threats to human health of the 21st century, with consequences that mental health professionals are also likely to face. While physical health impacts have been increasingly emphasized in literature and practice, recent scholarly literature indicates that climate change and related weather events and environmental changes can profoundly impact psychological well-being and mental health through both direct and indirect pathways, particularly among those with pre-existing vulnerabilities or those living in ecologically sensitive areas. Although knowledge is still limited about the connections between climate change and mental health, evidence is indicating that impacts may be felt at both the individual and community levels, with mental health outcomes ranging from psychological distress, depression and anxiety, to increased addictions and suicide rates. Drawing on examples from diverse geographical areas, this article highlights some climate-sensitive impacts that may be encountered by mental health professionals. We then suggest potential avenues for public mental health in light of current and projected changes, in order to stimulate thought, debate, and action.
As climate change impacts are felt around the globe, people are increasingly exposed to changes in weather patterns, wildlife and vegetation, and water and food quality, access and availability in their local regions. These changes can impact human health and well-being in a variety of ways: increased risk of foodborne and waterborne diseases; increased frequency and distribution of vector-borne disease; increased mortality and injury due to extreme weather events and heat waves; increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease due to changes in air quality and increased allergens in the air; and increased susceptibility to mental and emotional health challenges. While climate change is a global phenomenon, the impacts are experienced most acutely in place; as such, a sense of place, place-attachment, and place-based identities are important indicators for climate-related health and adaptation. Representing one of the first qualitative case studies to examine the connections among climate change, a changing sense of place, and health in an Inuit context, this research draws data from a multi-year community-driven case study situated in the Inuit community of Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, Canada. Data informing this paper were drawn from the narrative analysis of 72 in-depth interviews conducted from November 2009 to October 2010, as well as from the descriptive analysis of 112 questionnaires from a survey in October 2010 (95% response rate). The findings illustrated that climate change is negatively affecting feelings of place attachment by disrupting hunting, fishing, foraging, trapping, and traveling, and changing local landscapes-changes which subsequently impact physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. These results also highlight the need to develop context-specific climate-health planning and adaptation programs, and call for an understanding of place-attachment as a vital indicator of health and well-being and for climate change to be framed as an important determinant of health.