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Doctor says climate change-related health concerns are on the rise

Hawaii Daily Life
Carolyn Kaster/AP
FILE - A sailboat is seen from Waikīkī Beach in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, as the sun sets. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The state House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection discussed the health impacts of climate change at its inaugural meeting Wednesday.

Dr. Elizabeth Kiefer, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, presented on the public health impacts of climate change. Kiefer works in internal medicine, trained in epidemiology, and completed Yale University's climate and health program.

She notes that committees such as the EEP often discuss issues related to sea level rise and how it affects developments and homes, but she said that there is less conversation about the effects of increasing temperatures on human health.

Kiefer discussed how heat, especially on the island's "urban cores," is disproportionally affecting more vulnerable communities.

"When there's humidity, the body actually has a harder time reducing heat through evaporation, so we feel worse," Kiefer said.

She added that with Hawaiʻi's varying weather patterns and insects, there are lots of opportunities for health-related trauma, which can be furthered by the growing effects of climate change.

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