School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


23 Aug 2017

International climate change conference to be hosted by Loughborough University

An international climate change conference will bring experts to Loughborough to discuss the threats, solutions and technology associated with the growing environmental phenomenon.

The 2017 SSHB symposium: Human Biology of Climate Change takes place between 12 – 15 September, at the Ramada Loughborough hotel.

It features nine confirmed speakers, including Loughborough University’s Professor Rob Wilby and Professor George Havenith.

Prof Wilby, of the Department of Geography, will discuss the issue of direct risks to human health via menaces such as heatwaves, floods, windstorms, and poor air quality.

He said: “The talk will cover three main aspects of climate change and human health.

“First, an overview will be given of the most significant climate threats at the global scale.

“Key concepts like climate vulnerability and the climate-health-energy nexus will be explained. Some of the most deadly climate hazards of developed and developing regions will be compared.

“Second, attention will turn to the specific risks posed by extreme heatwaves and flooding in large cities.

“Third, the talk closes on a positive note by showing how advances in monitoring and forecasting systems are helping to avert some of the worst consequences of climate on vulnerable communities.”

Two technological solutions will also be examined – real-time flood forecasts of flood impacts on transport networks to support emergency services, and seasonal climate forecasts to improve preparedness for cholera outbreaks.

Prof Havenith, of the Loughborough Design School, will look at issues with worker productivity in a climate change scenario.

“In many countries in the world productivity is already affected given the warm climates,” he said. “Climate change can substantially aggravate this situation, and have substantial economic impact.

“Drastic solutions to ameliorate the issue, like installation of air conditioning indoors, has the risk of compounding climate change further due to the high energy demands.

“Simple measures, like using fans, are not effective in all situations.

“Also, the ageing population has to be factored in, as their resilience against heat is reduced.”

The other guest lecturers will travel from Japan, the USA and Russia to deliver their presentations.

They include:

  • Dr Sophie Goudet – AXA Research Fund, infant nutritional health and feeding practices, impact of flooding on maternal-infant health
  • Prof Sarah Elton – Anthropology, Durham University, primate and human evolution in relation to climate change
  • Dr Yuko Tsunetsugu – Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Japan. Research on forest bathing
  • Prof Janina Tutkuviene – University of Vilnius, Faculty of Medicine, geographic-climate associations and uncertainty on birth weight and menarche
  • Prof Debra J. Skene – Neuroendocrinology, University of Surrey, sleep, Chronobiology, biological rhythms
  • Prof Doug Crews – Ohio State University, Anthropology and Public Health, maternal health, and pregnancy outcomes, allostatic load, human aging & adaptation
  • Prof Elena Godina – Lomonosov Moscow State University, member of Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, human biology of Russia and neighbouring countries

Professor Barry Bogin from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, jointly organised the event in partnership with The Society for the Study of Human Biology and the International Association of Physiological Anthropology, said: “The conference covers everything from the impact of climate change on human evolution in the past six million years to bio-rhythms to ‘forest bathing’ – a topic which has received some media attention.

“Some of the contributed talks address political climate change and its effects on growth in height and weight.

“And there will be around 30 Japanese colleagues from the International Association of Physiological Anthropology joining us, most of whom do human factors design research.

“Overall, the event promises quite a mix.”

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