The Sustainable Solutions Lab (SSL) at UMass Boston is dedicated to understanding the disproportionate impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations and working with them to develop sustainable and equitable solutions.

Without climate justice research designed and conducted in partnership with marginalized communities, adaptation efforts may exacerbate existing inequities and negatively impact society’s resilience as a whole. 

Heat Waves, the New Normal: Summertime Temperature Extremes Will Impact Animals, Ecosystems, and Human Communities

A consequence of climate change is the increased frequency and severity of extreme heat waves. This is occurring now as most of the warmest summers and most intense heat waves ever recorded have been during the past decade. In this review, I describe the ways in which animals and human populations are likely to respond to increased extreme heat, suggest how to study those responses, and reflect on the importance of those studies for countering the devastating impacts of climate change.

Climate Change Influences on Environment as a Determinant of Indigenous Health: Relationships to Place, Sea Ice, and Health in an Inuit Community

This paper contributes to the literature on Indigenous health, human dimensions of climate change, and place-based dimensions of health by examining the role of environment for Inuit health in the context of a changing climate. We investigated the relationship between one key element of the environment – sea ice – and diverse aspects of health in an Inuit community in northern Canada, drawing on population health and health geography approaches. We used a case study design and participatory and collaborative approach with the community of Nain in northern Labrador, Canada.

How are Healthy, Working Populations Affected by Increasing Temperatures in the Tropics? Implications for Climate Change Adaptation Policies

Climate change and land use change are increasing average and extreme temperatures. Hotter temperatures can detrimentally affect workers’ health and their economic productivity and livelihoods, especially in rural areas in industrializing countries that may be more vulnerable and less resilient. A growing literature has examined these factors at large spatial scales, yet few studies have done so at finer scales.

Heat Stress on Agricultural Workers Exacerbates Crop Impacts of Climate Change

The direct impacts of climate change on crop yields and human health are individually well-studied, but the interaction between the two have received little attention. Here we analyze the consequences of global warming for agricultural workers and the crops they cultivate using a global economic model (GTAP) with explicit treatment of the physiological impacts of heat stress on humans’ ability to work.

Philadelphia Beat the Heat Toolkit

Tool Overview

In spring 2016, the Office of Sustainability solicited feedback from Philadelphia residents and stakeholders as it updated the Greenworks plan. One theme residents consistently mentioned was that despite significant progress, not every neighborhood in Philadelphia enjoys the benefits of sustainability such as well- maintained parks and sidewalks, tree canopy, or access to healthy food.

Barriers to Climate Change Adaptation in Indigenous Communities: A Case Study on the Mohawk Community of Kanesatake, Canada

The switch from climate change mitigation to the adaptation to its impacts or effects initially appears to be a promising strategy. Academics and practitioners, however, confront limits and barriers to the adaptation both in theory and practice. Despite the extensive efforts in understanding limits and barriers, little is still known about political and institutional barriers, more specifically political challenges in Indigenous communities that typically nullify the effect of adaptation strategies.

Does Herbivorous Fish Protection Really Improve Coral Reef Resilience? A Case Study from New Caledonia (South Pacific)

Parts of coral reefs from New Caledonia (South Pacific) were registered at the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2008. Management strategies aiming at preserving the exceptional ecological value of these reefs in the context of climate change are currently being considered. This study evaluates the appropriateness of an exclusive fishing ban of herbivorous fish as a strategy to enhance coral reef resilience to hurricanes and bleaching in the UNESCO-registered areas of New Caledonia.