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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 and Leal Filho, W and Azeiteiro, UM and Heimfarth, J and 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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