06. MOVING FORWARD
This is the first report produced specifically for Montanans and Montana that focuses on human health impacts from climate change. As a special report of the 2017 Montana Climate Assessment, it is intended to foster greater awareness of public health impacts from climate change in communities across Montana, and thus spur action.
The authors and their organizations—Montana Institute on Ecosystems, Center for American Indian and Rural Health Equity, and Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate—support implementation of the key messages and recommendations herein to mitigate significant climate-related human health impacts in Montana. They extend their gratitude to many contributing experts, as noted in the Acknowledgments section, for their input to the development of this report.
The recommendations promote establishment of a key climate action network that ensures the impacts of climate change on public health can be assessed, prepared for, and mitigated in Montana. Given the many efforts related to climate and health already occurring in Montana, the current lack of a collaborative network connecting these organizations and issues must be addressed. The creation of a statewide public health-climate science network comprising key stakeholders will improve climate and health data collection and sharing across Montana. Easier access to relevant data and capacity building will better inform and strengthen collective climate change adaptation planning, decision-making, and implementation, from state-level to personal health.
This report presents the best available science and resources at the time of publication. Many interconnections exist between climate change and human health, and these relationships are likely to evolve in the coming years. As access to better data becomes available on the climate impacts on Montanans’ health, new knowledge will inevitably expand the foundation this report offers. Thus, while this effort fills a key gap, this work will need to be sustained, updated, and expanded on a regular basis as part of the overall MCA program. Continuing focus and collaborations on these issues will assure Montanans are informed about the impacts of climate change on their health, and are also prepared to respond to those impacts in the coming decades.
This report provides an important and valuable first step in raising awareness of the topic of climate change and its impacts on human health in Montana. We hope that everyone will recognize their role to mitigate and adapt to climate change, both for our own health and for those most vulnerable among us.