CCCIA Researcher Maren Hale Presents at San Diego’s first Heat and Human Health Summit

Written by: Maren Hale

Saturday, August 12, 2023 was a landmark day for the field of heat and health in San Diego. For the very first time in our region, several groups came together to put on a full-day summit focused solely on the impacts of extreme heat on human health and heat wave response. The event, called H3SD, or San Diego’s Heat and Human Health Summit, was organized by local chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physicians, Kaiser Permanente, and other health-focused groups, and hosted at UC San Diego’s School of Medicine. The event convened physicians, researchers, and local climate leaders from all across San Diego County to exchange knowledge and strategies for action.

I was privileged to be invited to speak on the SoCal Heat Hub’s research at H3SD in a session which was moderated by Dr. Katie Crist, public health researcher and a postdoctoral scholar in Hub researcher Dr. Tarik Benmarhnia’s lab. During the session, I provided a summary of the Heat Hub’s goals and anticipated outcomes and delved into each of the 5 core research themes of the Hub, providing examples of work that’s been conducted already or is on the horizon. 

This session was an excellent opportunity to get the Hub’s name out in the world and inform people about the work that we’re conducting, which has implications for those who attended the session and their patients. It is my hope that this opportunity helps to forge collaborations and discussions with healthcare professionals who are interested in the public health aspects of our work.

Maren describes the anticipated outcomes we hope to achieve over the lifespan of the SoCal Heat Hub. Photo by Nan Renner.

In addition to presenting at my session, I also enjoyed learning from the other speakers presenting at sessions throughout the morning. Plenary speakers Dr. Wilma Wooten, public health officer at the County of San Diego, and Dr. Adam Aron, PI of the Climate Psychology and Action Lab at UCSD, set the stage with engaging talks on how heat affects the human body and how we can effectively act to stop the climate crisis, respectively. 

At other sessions, I particularly enjoyed hearing from Dr. Shasta Gaughen on extreme heat adaptation action in Pala tribal communities and the upcoming Tribal Climate and Health Summit, as well as from County leaders on actions being taken by the County as part of their Excessive Heat Response Plan to curb heat-health impacts, including cool zones and fan distribution programs. Alex Tardy, senior meteorologist at NOAA and the San Diego NWS Office (and SoCal Heat Hub partner), also delivered an important talk providing the meteorological and climatological context behind the issue of extreme heat in San Diego and shared what the NWS is doing to help assist in heat response.

The H3SD Summit was an excellent setting to engage with experts who are all extremely passionate about solving the heat-health challenges that San Diegans face – and will continue to face as the climate warms. It’s apparent that the issue is immense and wide-reaching, but witnessing the passion and dedication that this group of individuals and organizations has towards solving it –and solving it equitably– inspires hope that we will be successful in our efforts to protect human health in a warming world.

This update is crossposted on the SoCal Heat Hub blog. Check out the Heat Hub website to learn more!