The question of whether, how, and to what extent climate change is affecting health is central to many climate and health studies. We describe a set of formal methods, termed detection and attribution, used by climatologists to determine whether a climate trend or extreme event has changed and to estimate the extent to which climate change influenced that change. We discuss events where changing weather patterns were attributed to climate change and extend these analyses to include health impacts from heat waves in 2018 and 2019 in Europe and Japan, and we show how such impact attribution could be applied to melting ice roads in the Arctic. Documenting the causal chain from emissions of greenhouse gases to observed human health outcomes is important input into risk assessments that prioritize health system preparedness and response interventions and into financial investments and communication about potential risk to policy makers and to the public.
Ebi, K.L., Åström, C., Boyer, C.J., Harrington, L.J., Hess, J.J., Honda, Y., Kazura, E., Stuart-Smith, R.F. & Otto, F.E.L. (2020). 'Using Detection And Attribution To Quantify How Climate Change Is Affecting Health'. Health Affairs, 39(12).