Climate Justice in Rural Southeastern United States: A Review of Climate Change Impacts and Effects on Human Health

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 Feb 3;13(2):189. doi: 10.3390/ijerph13020189.


Climate justice is a local, national, and global movement to protect at-risk populations who are disproportionately affected by climate change. The social context for this review is the Southeastern region of the United States, which is particularly susceptible to climate change because of the geography of the area and the vulnerabilities of the inhabiting populations. Negative human health effects on variable and vulnerable populations within the Southeast region due to changing climate are concerning, as health threats are not expected to produce parallel effects among all individuals. Vulnerable communities, such as communities of color, indigenous people, the geographically isolated, and those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged and already experiencing poor environmental quality, are least able to respond and adapt to climate change. Focusing on vulnerable populations in the Southeastern United States, this review is a synthesis of the recent (2010 to 2015) literature-base on the health effects connected to climate change. This review also addresses local and regional mitigation and adaptation strategies for citizens and leaders to combat direct and indirect human health effects related to a changing climate.

Keywords: climate change; climate justice; human health; rurality; vulnerable populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Environmental Health*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Rural Health*
  • Social Justice*
  • Southeastern United States
  • Vulnerable Populations*