Indigenous Health and Climate Change

James D. Ford. (2012). American Journal of Public Health. e-View Ahead of Print. View PDF.

Indigenous populations have been identified as vulnerable to climate change. This framing, however, is detached from the diverse geographies of how people experience, understand, and respond to climate-related health outcomes, and overlooks nonclimatic determinants. I reviewed research on indigenous health and climate change to capture place-based dimensions of vulnerability and broader determining factors. Studies focused primarily on Australia and the Arctic, and indicated significant adaptive capacity, with active responses to climate-related health risks. However, nonclimatic stresses including poverty, land dispossession, globalization, and associated sociocultural transitions challenge this adaptability. Addressing geographic gaps in existing studies alongside greater focus on indigenous conceptualizations on and approaches to health, examination of global-local interactions shaping local vulnerability, enhanced surveillance, and an evaluation of policy support opportunities are key foci for future research.