My name is Nora Hill, I'm a senior in high school at the Vermont Commons School. My social studies class has allowed us to spend 20% of our time focused on a current day global issue that interests us, and I have chosen the effect climate change will have on infectious diseases. This blog will be my process of learning about the issue and what I can do to address it.
Climate change is arguably the biggest issue facing my generation, but many people don't realize how far reaching these effects will be. Climate change will change global health, particularly with climate sensitive diseases that are food borne, air borne, insect borne, and water borne. Some of the most climate sensitive disease are: malaria, cholera, Lyme Disease, and West Nile virus. For general information on the impact of climate change on infectious disease check out this information from WHO .

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Reflection 14/Dec/14

I am feeling pretty stressed and concerned about my 20% project. I am really unsure about my goal/product which is to have an online/social media campaign to draw attention to the Senate Bill on Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion and move this bill out of committee. Although I feel a more reasonable goal is get my senator, Bernie Sanders interested in the Bill.

I guess if I  just raise attention to this small area of concern around climate change that will be a small victory but I find myself wishing I was more technologically inclined and could produce some amazing predictive computer model of infectious disease spread (although I do realize that is completely unrealistic since I have no access to data nor any clue to design complex computer modelling systems).

I am going to make an effort to reach out to some of the Vermont experts to see if I can get a better sense if my project is even meaningful or helpful. I also will email Senator Sanders this week as he is on the HELP Committee. I am trying to manage my stress and anxiety with this project and all my other school work is proving difficult….not to mention I just heard back from my top choice college!! I officially know what I'm doing next year. To be honest my happiness at getting accepted has completely eclipsed my weekend.

Honestly I do think my project is worthwhile and will be an empowering experience, each of us can do small things that together will have a greater collective effort.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekly Reflection

I have done some research and I have found out that my State representivity, Bernie Sanders, is on the committee along with 11 democrats and 10 republicans. It was good to finally see who was on the committee, and I plan on composing a letter to all the members in the next two weeks urging the to take Bill 2864 to a vote and urging them to pass it. I will reach out to Bernie Sanders in particular as he is my state representative. I also plan on contacting some local resources. vermont has been a testing ground for a lot of the proposed actions in the Bill and it would be great to talk to some experts and see what changes have been made how they have been working out.

Monday, December 1, 2014


Thoughts: I'm excited to start actually working on my campaign. After a lot of planning and thinking it is nice to start to actually taking some next steps. I'm worried that others might not care as much about this Bill as I do, or aren't as interested as me.

Worries: The Republicans have taken back both the Senate and House. Now the leader of the Environmental committee does not believe in climate change. This change is greatly concerning to me, not only for the purposes of this project but also for my own personal concern for this country.

Biggest Challenges: Getting the word out in a meaningful way. This I find is the greatest challenge in any campaign. Spreading the word is important, but having a positive association with, and some basic knowledge of the topic.

Things I'm excited about: Making a positive change within the legislation. I'm also excited to start a campaign, talking to people and sharing my convictions with them is one of my favorite things to do, and when the person you are talking to gets excited as well that is the best.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Project proposal

Nora Hill
20%time project proposal:

I.                  Project Information
1.    Project Title: Infectious Diseases: the unknown impact of Climate Change
a.             Project Summary: This project will focus on a campaign to pass Bill 2864. This Bill has climate health legislation that is crucial to the fight against climate change. This project will focus with the goal of spreading interest, knowledge and support, but also trying to get this Bill passed. Now, with both a republican Congress and Democratic White House it is more important than ever for this Bill to pass, if we are going to start the movement around climate change it has to transcend party lines. Email both of my own state senators, and/or call them, I want to learn their thoughts on this Bill, and whether or not it will pass. Find out more information on the bill’s status, who is supporting it, who is against it, what issues do Senators have with the bill? I will create interest and spread knowledge about the bill, as many of those whom might care are not informed. I want not only to inform the public, but also encourage people to call their state senators.
Project Time-frame: November 2014 – April 2015 Finish gathering research on the Bill: December 6. Start making calls and campaigning: after December 6 ( this is loose as I have not yet figured out what will be the best way for me to spread the Bill so I will update this as Information flows.
Prepared by: Nora Hill
Project Contacts: David Grass: Contact Info: State of Vermont Environmental Health Chief David.Grass@state.vt.us. Heidi Hale: Heidi.Hales@state.vt.us Chris Grace christopher.grace@vtmednet.org Christine Vatovec cvatovec@uvm.edu Erica Berl Erica.Berl@state.vt.us

II.                  Project Summary
I am under taking this project because I believe that it is vital that my generation be knowledgeable about this topic; we must change if we are going to survive. By spreading knowledge for Bill 2864 I am not only helping to promote legislation, but also informing my generation of some of the issues posed by climate change. I intend to make a facebook page and utilize several other forms of social media in order to spread awareness, make posters, call and email senators, maybe make a video???, each of these steps will help me on journey to getting Bill 2864 passed.
 .               Project Background
The issues caused by climate change are large and numerous, however this project focuses on addressing the health related issues facing society, because of climate change. Changes in weather patterns will have drastic effects on people’s health. In particular, disease will spread to different regions, especially vector borne diseases. These diseases, such as Lyme disease, Malaria, and West Nile, are going to spread into in foreseen parts of the world.
a.              Project Objectives
0.             State explicitly what goals the project is aiming to achieve.
 .               Objective 1: Spread awareness - Of both the Bill and the increasing issues of infectious diseases caused by climate change. 
a.              Objective 2 : Rally support for the Bill - I believe that by raising awareness of this issue, and providing Bill 2864 as a possible solution, I will be able to not only educate the public but also increase support for this Bill as now people will understand why we need this Bill and what this Bill is addressing. 
b.             Objective 3 : Get the Bill passed - This is a long-term goal. I am not judging the "success" of this project by where or not this Bill gets passed, it is more about spreading knowledge of an issue and providing one solution. 
III.                  Project Methodology
 I intend to make a Facebook page and utilize several other forms of social media in order to spread awareness, make posters, call and email Senators, maybe make a video. This video would educate the public on the increasing issue of infectious diseases due to climate change and the issues that we are predicting for the future. This video would focus on me talking and interviewing experts. I would use several resources that could help me edit this video. The biggest foreseen problem with this project is that the Republicans have taken over both the Senate and the House, so the actuality of the Bill getting passed is hard to say. However, I believe that going through the process is what matters most not necessarily getting the Bill passed.
 .               Work Breakdown and Task Time Estimates/ Project Deliverables
Research senators that currently support the Bill, by early December
Contact VT senators to express concern, by Mid December
Contact Senator Marky to learn about where the Bill stands and what it will look like when the Republicans take over leadership of the committee. Late December
Start a Facebook page with on going social media presence, flush out more with letter writing campaign as I learn more about the political standing in Washington: January and ongoing
Connect local medical resources to learn what’s working in VT and to find out how to gather support for the national initiative early February and late January
Work through other student senates to start letter writing campaign.
Long-shot visit VT senators or Marky (march)
Long-shot get on local media to highlight my efforts. (march)
IV.    Risk Management Plan

The biggest foreseen problem with this project is that the Republicans have taken over both the Senate and the House, so the actuality of the Bill getting passed is hard to say. However, I believe that going through the process is what matters most not necessarily getting the Bill passed. Another issue is some of the technical issues that might arise as I am not tech savy. 

V.                  Conclusion

With these steps, not only will I educate my generation on one of the issue surrounding climate change but perhaps change legislation to help counter act the effects of climate change on health. I hope that by educating the public on this issue they will become informed and inspired. Most of the time when people learn about climate change it is extremely hard for them to feel any sense of hope or any way for them to make a difference, but educating with a solution I am hoping to avoid this issue. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Future Projects

Looking toward the future I will start my campaign for Bill 2864 to get passed. This is now a slightly harder job given that the republicans have once again taken the senate, however I feel this is even more important now that the republicans have a majority vote, the issue of climate health has to transcend political lines if we are going to have hope for the future. I am going to attempt to address this problem in the US, however this blog will remain focused on the global issues of Climate Health. I will continue to update my project progress on this blog, but primarily intend to use it as a way to continue to educate myself and other on the issues of Climate Health.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Isn't it time for Climate Health Law?

As I have learned more about the link between climate change and infectious disease, I am struck by how climate change will impact human health in many ways beyond diseases: it will cause more respiratory distress, allergies, heat related conditions, injuries from extreme weather events and more. Occasionally you may see my blog beyond the link between climate change and infectious disease to the the topic of climate health as a whole. Reflecting on the process of putting together my project and educating myself on the issue of climate change and infectious disease, it has been difficult to decide what my product and project would be. For this assignment we were charged with producing a product of some kind that would help address the issue we were interested in. For my "product" I'm going to start a campaign to support a bill in congress that will pass legislation around Climate Health. This is slightly off my area of focus, infectious diseases, but it includes this, as well as many other health related issues that are predicted to increase with climate change. This then becomes an not only an environmental issue, but also a class and social justice issue as well; those who will be effected the most by these health changes are often poor and have inadequate access to health care. People living in poverty will be hit the hardest by extreme weather events, and often will have no resources to repair their homes. In Vermont and other rural states, farmers will be affected by this as well and will have increased disease pressure, pest pressure and will suffer the lose of crops. Farmers, as well as other workers, will have more respiratory issues, allergenic issue, and heat related issues.

All of these climate health related issues will be exacerbated, on top of the increase and spread of vector borne diseases. This is why we must help to support Bill 2864 pass in the Senate. This Bill addresses many of these issues and seeks to establish protocols for dealing with several of them, including mandatory reporting of diseases such as Lyme disease. Vermont is a state that has passed legislation around the reporting of Lyme disease to better document the impact of climate change, to educate physicians about its symptoms and treatments and to educate the public about the newly emerging risks in Vermont, as state that used to be almost free of the disease. If you are interested in learning more about the Bill here is a link to Senator Markey's, D- MA, webpage where he discusses the Bill. It is also important to note that Vermont already has many of the protocols that this Bill would set in place.

I hope to learn more about how Vermont is on the leading edge of Climate Health and work to mobilize people to contact their Senators and Representatives to support this bill.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Local Roots: Vermont

I have lived in Vermont almost my whole life, so when asked to do a project that would service the community, I immediately thought of the Vermont community. Will vermont face a threat from climate sensitive infectious diseases? Vermont is already taking action around this problem, in fact here are a few videos that discuss the situation in Vermont. This Video1 features David Grass, from the Department of Health in Vermont. This Video2 from WCAX prepares viewers for the increased risk of infectious diseases in Vermont. West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease are the two most climate sensitive infectious disease that are a threat to Vermonters currently. If you don't like to watch videos, here is an article on the Vermont climate change protocol. This discusses legally what Vermont is planning and preparing for. This is important to read and understand, as it will be much easier to change in its infancy than later once it has gained traction.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The WHO and the WMO Take Action

I recently found a blog, which reports that the WMO, World Meteorological Organization, and WHO have started gathering information, data, and prediction from both medical and climate scientists. The publication will be called Case Studies on Climate Services for Health, this is a follow up to the 2012 publication  The Atlas on Climate and Health.  This was jointly publish by the WHO and the WMO.  The new publication aims to highlight a full spectrum of climate related health issues and risks, including infectious diseases, air pollution, water shortages, and extreme weather events.

Global Perspectives

So, what is the global community saying about how climate change is affecting disease? Right now, there is a focus on the Ebola outbreak. While this has less to do with the changes in where diseases will be located or with how vector born disease will migrate, there is still a connection. Scientists are saying that climate change has had a hand in the outbreak, extreme dry seasons followed by heavy rain increase the chance of the disease to spread through the animal population. Animals will gather together to eat the fruit produced by these seasons and the disease will spread among species. These weather patterns also mean food shortages in Africa, which in turns means people have to find different food sources, in this case "bush meat." In fact, "bush meat" consumption and handling has been linked to almost 50% of the current Ebola cases. However, it's not just Ebola that has people talking.
The World Health Organization, WHO, has warned that infectious diseases that are known to be climate sensitive: malaria, dengue fever, West Nile Virus, cholera and lyme disease are expected to intensify due to higher temperatures and extreme weather events. The WHO says that these increases are a result of "the combined impacts of rapid demographic, environmental, social, technological, and other changes in our ways-of-living. Climate change will also affect infectious disease occurrence." 

When facing a issue with global implications, the world has to respond, and with an issue as far reaching as this, we will not only have to address the current problems, but also find a solution for the deeper cause that is climate change. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Why I'm interested and How I've been educating myself:

So, why would a teenager be interested in how climate change is affecting disease?
I'm not a climate changer researcher, nor am I a physician. However, I am interested in both these topics, and my interest has led me to their interception: how climate change is changing the patterns of infectious disease. I'm not sure yet how I can counteract this problem, but I imagine it will be educating myself and then perhaps raising awareness of this issue and what we can do to combat it. This is not a problem commonly associated with climate change, but it should be, and in the coming years, needs to be.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


What is the driving cause of infectious disease change, temperature, weather pattern, habitat, vectors, water?
What efforts are being made?
How much awareness is known?
What are the ecologically effects of this?
How does the ecology of different geographical ranges effect the ability for transmission?