14.2 Categories of Health Impacts
The "costs" and "benefits" of alternative technologies
and policies must include an evaluation of health impacts. Public health professionals
should be consulted about how to reduce adverse health impacts and promote positive
health outcomes. Uncertainty about the probabilities and timing of local and
regional impacts, and particularly health impacts, means that policymakers may
be unwilling to act. One barrier to the understanding of health impacts assessments
by policymakers is the lack of a common currency for the quantification of diverse
types of health outcomes (Robine, 1998). Methods such as DALYs (Murray and Lopez,
1997), which quantify morbidity impacts in a single unit of disability-adjusted
years of life lost, may make health impacts assessment more acceptable to policymakers.
Furthermore, many policymakers are preoccupied with current pressing health
problems. Technologies that address climate change will therefore be more acceptable
if they improve public health in the near-term (Adger and Kelly, 1999).