The US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), under the leadership of its Interagency Crosscutting Group on Climate Change and Human Health (CCHHG) and a subset of the Interagency National Climate Assessment (INCA) Task Force, has initiated an interagency Assessment on the Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States. The Assessment is intended to inform public health authorities, other planning and policy entities, and the general public. It has been featured in the President’s Climate Action Plan and is designated as a Highly Influential Scientific Assessment (HISA) under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) peer review guidelines.
The Assessment extends the work begun under the 2008 Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.6 Analyses of the Effects of Global Change on Human Health and Welfare and Human Systems (USGCRP, 2008) and the third National Climate Assessment (NCA) released in May 2014. The Assessment is considered an interim product of the NCA. The Assessment is mostly comprised of a review of published literature, but also includes new quantitative analyses in four chapters.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine were asked to conduct an independent review of the Assessment. The Academies and the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) have a history of providing guidance to the USGCRP and the NCA process. Under the auspices of the Committee to Advise the USGCRP, a number of meetings and activities were held in recent years to provide ongoing advice, including a review of the draft NCA document in 2013.
A Committee was convened in March 2015 to conduct a review of the Draft USGCRP Climate and Health Assessment. The Committee is composed of members with expertise in key areas of relevance to the Draft Assessment. The Institute of Medicine’s Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice also provided valuable input throughout the study process.
This Committee was specifically asked to consider the following questions (see Appendix B):
- Does the report meet its stated goals?
- Is the report responsive to the nation’s needs for information on the health impacts of climate change and their potential implications?
- Does the report accurately reflect the scientific literature? Are there any critical content areas missing from the report?
- Are the approaches to quantitative modeling reasonable and adequately supported by existing literature?
- Are the findings documented in a consistent, transparent, and credible way?
- Are the report’s key messages and graphics clear and appropriate? Specifically, do they reflect supporting evidence, include an assessment of likelihood, and communicate effectively?
- Are the research needs identified in the report appropriate?
Committee members had the opportunity to interact with the Assessment authors and steering committee during WebEx discussions held on March 20 and April 20, 2015. The Committee also held one in-person meeting on May 8-9, 2015 in Washington, DC and conducted additional discussions via phone, email, and WebEx to develop consensus answers to the Statement of Task Questions. The Committee formed small teams of members with relevant expertise to review the individual Assessment chapters and discussed their reviews with the group as a whole. The Committee’s review was conducted at the same time as the Assessment’s public comment period.
The Committee commends the USGCRP and report authors on their Draft Assessment and acknowledges the remarkable amount of time and preparation necessary to assemble a document of this scope. Consensus answers to the Statement of Task questions and reviews of the individual chapters—primarily focused on the key findings—are presented in this report. Appendix A includes more detailed comments sorted by Assessment Chapter. The Committee hopes that this report will help the report authors meet their goals for the Draft Assessment.