Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(6), 2134-2158; doi:10.3390/ijerph9062134
Article

Human Health and Climate Change: Leverage Points for Adaptation in Urban Environments

1 National Centre for Epidemiology and Population, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia 2 Fenner School for Environment and Society, Research School of Engineering, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia 3 School of Public Health, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia 4 Discipline of Public Health, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia 5 Research School of Engineering, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia 6 School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia 7 National Centre for Epidemiology and Population, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia 8 Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency Program, School of Population & Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada 9 University of Technology Sydney, 15 Broadway, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 May 2012; Accepted: 28 May 2012 / Published: 6 June 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health Impacts and Adaptation)
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Abstract: The design of adaptation strategies that promote urban health and well-being in the face of climate change requires an understanding of the feedback interactions that take place between the dynamical state of a city, the health of its people, and the state of the planet. Complexity, contingency and uncertainty combine to impede the growth of such systemic understandings. In this paper we suggest that the collaborative development of conceptual models can help a group to identify potential leverage points for effective adaptation. We describe a three-step procedure that leads from the development of a high-level system template, through the selection of a problem space that contains one or more of the group’s adaptive challenges, to a specific conceptual model of a sub-system of importance to the group. This procedure is illustrated by a case study of urban dwellers’ maladaptive dependence on private motor vehicles. We conclude that a system dynamics approach, revolving around the collaborative construction of a set of conceptual models, can help communities to improve their adaptive capacity, and so better meet the challenge of maintaining, and even improving, urban health in the face of climate change.
Keywords: cities; urban health; climate adaptation; systems thinking; system dynamics; conceptual models; co-effects; leverage points

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MDPI and ACS Style

Proust, K.; Newell, B.; Brown, H.; Capon, A.; Browne, C.; Burton, A.; Dixon, J.; Mu, L.; Zarafu, M. Human Health and Climate Change: Leverage Points for Adaptation in Urban Environments. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 2134-2158.

AMA Style

Proust K, Newell B, Brown H, Capon A, Browne C, Burton A, Dixon J, Mu L, Zarafu M. Human Health and Climate Change: Leverage Points for Adaptation in Urban Environments. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2012; 9(6):2134-2158.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Proust, Katrina; Newell, Barry; Brown, Helen; Capon, Anthony; Browne, Chris; Burton, Anthony; Dixon, Jane; Mu, Lisa; Zarafu, Monica. 2012. "Human Health and Climate Change: Leverage Points for Adaptation in Urban Environments." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 9, no. 6: 2134-2158.

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