Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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14.2.3 Health Impacts of Adaptation Technologies

The application of technologies to adapt to climate change should have net health benefits. Table 14.2 lists some of the health implications of adaptation technologies. For example, measures applied to control climate-sensitive invasive species (e.g., agricultural pests) may cause new human health problems. The occurrence of secondary health impacts is well illustrated by water development projects that have had significant effects on the local transmission of parasitic diseases, including malaria, lymphatic filariasis and schistosomiasis (Hunter et al., 1993). For example, improved water supply in some rural areas of India has resulted in an increase in Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding sites and, consequently, may have contributed to outbreaks of dengue. More often, however, reliable piped water systems result in reduced Ae. aegypti densities and lower risk of epidemics (Gubler, 1994). Large-scale irrigation schemes for cultivating crops can increase malaria transmission, as illustrated by a malaria epidemic in Burundi, which was linked to the expansion of local rice fields (Marimbu et al., 1993). The impacts of water management projects can be minimised by appropriate design measures such as flushing or varying water levels to kill snails and mosquito larvae.

Table 14.2 Potential health impacts of various adaptation responses
Note: magnitude of impact will depend on details of the particular responses taken
Global Change Factor Sector Adaptive Response Health Effect
Change in local temperature Buildings Increased cooling* Increased energy demand leading to air pollution and other hazards from energy supply
  Transport Increased cooling* As above
  Energy Supply Increased energy demand due to lowered efficiency of thermal conversion devices, e.g., power plants* As above
Change in local precipitation Water Supply Build large hydro schemes to transport water Vector-borne and parasitic disease, accident, and population displacement risks.
  Land-use Shift populations Impacts of social and economic disruption
Change in sea level Land-use Shift populations Impacts of social and economic disruption

* Technological adaptations with potential positive feedback, i.e., leading to even larger GHG emissions.

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