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An assessment of the relationships between extreme weather events, vulnerability, and the impacts on human wellbeing in Latin America

Nagy, GJ, Leal Filho, W, Azeiteiro, UM, Heimfarth, J, Verocai, JE and Li, C (2018) An assessment of the relationships between extreme weather events, vulnerability, and the impacts on human wellbeing in Latin America. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15 (9). pp. 1-25. ISSN 1661-7827

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Abstract

Climate change and variability are known to have an influence on human wellbeing in a variety of ways. In Latin America, such forces are especially conspicuous, particularly in respect of extreme climatological, hydrological, and weather events (EWEs) and climate-sensitive disasters (CSDs). Consistent with the need to study further such connections, this paper presents an analysis of some of the vulnerabilities of environmental health issues and climate-related impacts that are focusing on EWEs and CSDs in Latin American countries. The research includes an analysis of the (i) human and socio-economic development; (ii) geographical and socio-economic determinants of vulnerability and adaptability of environmental health issues (exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity); (iii) occurrence of CSDs from 1988 to 2017 and their direct impacts on human wellbeing (Total death and Affected people); (iv) an online survey on the perceptions of the effects of EWEs on human wellbeing in a sample of countries in the region; and (v) discussion of possible solutions. The socio-economic and development indices, and the International Disaster Database (EM-DAT) and Climate-Risk Index (CRI) disaster statistics suggest that the impacts of CSDs are primarily related to socio-economic determinants of human wellbeing and health inequalities. Also, >80% respondents to the survey say that the leading causes of climate-related human impacts are the lack of (i) public awareness; (ii) investment and (iii) preparedness. The paper concludes by adding some suggestions that show how countries in Latin America may better cope with the impacts of Climate-sensitive Disasters.

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