Climate Change and One Health

The impacts of climate change have far-reaching consequences for public health, animal well-being, and the environment. These challenges are intensifying and causing unprecedented disruptions.

To tackle the scale of this climate shift, Colorado State University’s One Health Institute initiated five pilot projects themed “Climate Change and One Health” in Fall 2021. Supported by CSU OHI, the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, and the Office of the Vice President for Research, these projects embraced a One Health approach. This approach recognizes the interdependence of human, animal, and environmental health. Collaborative interdisciplinary teams were formed to strategize and prepare for the expected repercussions of climate change.

Smoke ready graphic

Smoke-ready communities: Creating and sustaining air quality information using targeted communication interventions to improve human and animal health

Lead PI: Ashley Anderson

The project worked to establish a communication network in Fort Collins to improve air quality information dissemination. Through targeted messages and reliable sources, it aims to inform at-risk communities about safeguarding their well-being and their animals during heightened wildfire smoke occurrences.

Solar graphic

Projecting human health impacts from temperature extremes under scenarios of solar climate intervention

Lead PI: Brooke Anderson, Co-PI: James Hurrell

Solar climate intervention aims to curb Earth’s warming by enhancing sunlight reflection into space, thereby reducing trapped solar energy. CSU researchers working on this project are applying this approach as a complement to carbon emission reduction, seeking to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Virtual Livestock fencing

Research opportunities for emerging technologies in virtual livestock fencing and potential for mitigating the effects of climate change on western ranches

Lead PI: Paul Evangelista, Co-PI: Dana Hoag

Western ranches face resource limitations for response and recovery, leaving them vulnerable to droughts, wildfires, floods, and extreme weather. CSU researchers working on this project are exploring the potential of virtual fencing to reshape climate change’s impact on range management. This emerging technology enables ranchers to guide livestock movement strategically, steering clear of sensitive habitats and hazards. It holds promise for climate adaptation in ranch management by offering control and adaptability to mitigate climate change effects.

Urban green spaces

NATURGREEN - NATive Urban Green Spaces for climate, pollinators, and human health

Lead PI: David Rojas Rueda

To counter land cover challenges, urban planners use green spaces to mitigate environmental issues. Research revealed that more green space in neighborhoods led to fewer heat waves, improved air quality, and increased outdoor socialization. Yet, these spaces were unevenly distributed, favoring wealthier areas.

This project works to study native plants in urban green spaces to boost pollinator presence and enhance human health. CSU partnered with Denver City to examine pollinator engagement’s impact on well-being, particularly mortality and mental health, from a health equity viewpoint. 

Graphic for reimagine project

The Reimagine Project: Building a high-functioning transdisciplinary team culture

Lead PI: Kim Stackhouse-Lawson

The vast Western Great Plains, North America’s largest remaining grassland, sustains vital livestock-based food production. Climate change now threatens this ecosystem and industry, potentially triggering major shifts in livestock farming, ecology, and economics. A CSU team is working to collaborate with ranchers, conservation groups, industries, and communities to tackle these challenges. The project’s core aim is to create a community-centered framework for implementing sustainable livestock practices, enhancing rural resilience, and fostering thriving communities and economies.

Importance of pilot projects

The One Health Institute provides the infrastructure to connect CSU researchers studying complex challenges impacting human, animal and environmental health. Diverse teams contribute solution-oriented research that will help mitigate and plan for climate change’s impacts on the earth in the coming decades.

Multifaceted problems require transdisciplinary solutions, and the CSU One Health Institute is a leader in solving complex issues through research, training, outreach and advocacy.