The Hidden Ways Climate Change Impacts Your Enterprise

Climate change is here. As you update your company’s risk assessment to include climate change, you probably already include the risks to your company’s physical assets. Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, blizzards, drought and heat spells can all threaten your physical assets in obvious ways. A hidden risk, however, lurks in these climate and weather-related disasters – the threat to employee safety because of:

  • Poor air quality 
  • Contaminated food, water and water debris from flooding
  • Disease carrying pests like ticks, mosquitoes and rodents
  • Stress from coping with instability such as displacement
  • Appearance of new infectious agents and expanding ranges for old ones

When you consider all the risks from climate change, you might ask how your enterprise would respond if:

  • employees were suddenly experiencing acute respiratory distress?
  • more employees get chronic lung disease due to poor air, increasing healthcare costs and reducing productivity?
  • water in your buildings and the surrounding area became unsafe to drink? 
  • rising sea levels or extreme weather forced you to relocate employees?
  • employees were unable to come to work because of flooding or storms? 
  • an outbreak of West Nile virus from mosquitoes threatened workers in one facility?

The extent to which these biorisks impact your operations will depend on your ability to plan and execute mitigation strategies. To be effective, you’ll need trustworthy intelligence from the beginning and advance warning to indicate when the situation has changed.

The Hidden Ways Climate Change Impacts Your Enterprise

Why is climate change important now?

As a leader in enterprise security, you know that catastrophic weather events are increasing in number, severity and cost. Already this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that seven weather events with losses exceeding $1 billion each have already hit the United States. 

From 1980 to 2022, the annual average of events of that magnitude was 8.1 events, and in the most recent five years, the annual average was 18 events. If events continue at the pace set in the first four months of 2023, we could expect as many as 21 weather-related disasters this year. You need to prepare before a crisis hits.

As you consider the risk weather poses to your assets in the U.S. and around the world, are you including biorisk in your calculations?

Four keys to protecting your employees from hidden dangers

In order to plan for threats to employee safety, you will need to know more about problems that can arise from changing weather patterns. Planning for poor air quality, extreme heat, individual resilience and mental health concerns are key to helping employees cope with climate change.

Respiratory symptoms result from poor air quality

Rates of respiratory problems increase when air quality is poor. Smoke from wildfires and long-term air pollution can both cause breathing problems, even in healthy adults. People with existing conditions, such as asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions, will be particularly at risk. Employees who work outdoors, are currently pregnant or have young children at home will also be disproportionately impacted. Anyone who faces financial barriers to air conditioning and air filtering options may also face increased risks. 

Rising temperatures affect more than comfort

Higher temperatures put your workforce at risk for heat-related illness, such as heat stroke, as well as cardiovascular problems. The effects on individuals, however, are not the only heat-related issues we face. With higher temperatures, agricultural crops, like bananas, rice, cocoa and coffee, may no longer thrive where they’ve been planted for generations, and maintaining food quality and availability is becoming an increasingly serious issue. 

In addition, rising temperatures will impact employee success, regardless of the kind of work your employees do. If any part of your workforce works outdoors, you’ll need to plan to avoid heat-related complications. And if any of your employees work in temperature-controlled environments, you’ll need to plan for air conditioning failure or power outages. High temperatures also impact transit to and from work.

All reactions are not the same

Climate change will not necessarily impact all of your team members in the same way. A person’s vulnerability to the risks of climate change generally depends on three key factors

  • Exposure – It matters how long people spend time in damaging environments and what they do there. 
  • Sensitivity – Some people are more sensitive than others to climate hazards due to factors like age and health conditions. For example, children and adults with asthma are particularly sensitive to air pollutants and wildfire smoke.
  • Adaptability – A person’s ability to adapt may depend upon their income, age, living situation, fitness, access to healthcare and other factors.

Understanding that each employee faces unique risks is the key to planning for individual reactions.

Don’t forget mental health dangers

When you stop and reflect on the gravity of the climate change crisis, things can feel pretty bleak. When homes are destroyed, diseases spread and day-to-day life is impacted by climate-related disasters, the risks to your team’s mental health will increase.

The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that health crises and the resulting mental health impacts can be devastating to any workforce. Depression and anxiety can significantly impair daily living skills and job performance. Offering a free yoga session or massage voucher to your employees is far from enough. Your business needs to develop a robust plan to address mental health crises arising from climate change, ensuring regular access to mental health professionals for employees.

How you can include biorisk in your mitigation strategies

As the earth warms, biorisks will change and new ones will develop, but you don’t have to be blindsided by weather disasters. To create effective plans, you’ll need trustworthy intelligence about biorisks at your individual locations and advance warning when their situations change.

The Public Health Company provides near-real-time intelligence through the PHC Pharos platform. Its analysis is derived from thousands of data points gathered regularly from multiple sources. Our experts provide enhanced context and insight to help you understand the biorisks you face.
Armed with this information, you can make timely, informed decisions to protect employees and assets as you prepare to mitigate risks. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.

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Dave Komendat retired as the Vice President and Chief Security Officer for The Boeing Company, a role he held for 14 years of his 36 years within the security profession. Komendat was responsible for the company’s global security and fire protection policy and procedures, site security, executive protection, supply chain and aviation security, structural and aircraft fire protection, government and proprietary information security, classified cyber security, strategic intelligence, international security, business continuity and disaster preparedness, Global Security Operations Center, and security background investigations.


Komendat was also the lead Boeing interface for both national and international security policy engagement with numerous government and industry advisory groups. He represented Boeing as past co-chairman and current board member on the Domestic Security Alliance Council, past President of The International Security Management Association and served as a member of the Threats and Information Committee for the Overseas Security Advisory Council.  


Komendat is the founder and President of DSKomendat Risk Management Services, he also serves on several company advisory boards and holds board leadership roles with several non-profit organizations whose missions are to protect people globally, including Hostage U.S. and The International Security Foundation. Dave is also a Strategic Engagement Advisor for the Office of Private Sector within the FBI. In 2018, Dave was awarded the Director’s Award for Exceptional Public Service by FBI Director Christopher Wray.


Komendat graduated from California State University at Long Beach and also attended and completed the executive development program at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Dr. Carter Mecher serves as the Medical Advisor for the Public Health Company. 


Prior to joining PHC, Carter served as a Senior Medical Advisor for the Office of Public Health in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In this position, Dr. Mecher played a key role in the COVID-19 outbreak response. 


From 2005 to 2011, he served as the Director of Medical Preparedness Policy at the White House Homeland Security Council and National Security Staff. He was a principal author of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan. In this capacity, he helped set policy and devise strategies to mitigate the consequences of a pandemic and promote pandemic preparedness. 


Before serving at the White House, Dr. Mecher was the Chief Medical Officer for the Southeast VA Network in Atlanta from 1996 to 2005. In this role he oversaw the healthcare delivery for veterans in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. 


Dr. Mecher is a co-author of Lessons from the COVID War, an in-depth examination of the U.S. response to the pandemic. In addition, he is featured in Michael Lewis’ book The Premonition.


Dr. Mecher received his medical degree from Chicago Medical School and completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in critical care medicine at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center.

Dr. Joe DeRisi is a Scientific Advisor to PHC. He is one of the early pioneers of DNA microarray technology and whole genome expression profiling; he is nationally recognized in the field of genomic epidemiology for designing a first-of-its-kind initiative for COVID-19. Joe currently serves as Co-President of Chan Zuckerberg BioHub and is a professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at University of California, San Francisco. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Stanford University.

Dr. Sumiko Mekaru is the Vice President of Research and Innovation at The Public Health Company. Dr. Mekaru is an epidemiologist operating at the intersection of traditional epidemiology and technology and leading cross-disciplinary teams to solve challenges in public health. Prior to joining PHC, Dr. Mekaru was a Life Sciences Strategy, Policy, and Operations Expert at Booz Allen Hamilton where she recently led the development of COVID-19 forecasting models for disease transmission, resource utilization, and critical events for the Department of Defense. Dr. Mekaru has also led health technology teams at Epidemico and Boston Children’s Hospital, creating innovative health surveillance tools. She has published extensively on infectious disease outbreak monitoring, modeling, and surveillance. Dr. Mekaru holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University and a PhD in epidemiology from Boston University.

Justin McIntosh is an experienced professional with 10+ years in management and 8+ years in software engineering. Currently, he is the Vice President of Operations at The Public Health Company. His journey began in college when he co-founded Safe Site, a utility services company, which expanded to operations in three states with over 300 employees. After a successful exit, he founded Docusite, a construction risk management application, diving into software engineering. Despite challenges with Docusite, Justin’s passion for technology led him to various roles before landing at The Public Health Company.


In his current role, Justin is tackling the challenging task of improving operations in a remote environment. He is dedicated to his role and is always open to sharing experiences and insights. He is committed to nurturing effective teams, improving operations, and shaping innovative solutions. His focus is on creating a positive, growth-oriented environment and mentoring emerging leaders, reflecting his commitment to collective success.

Lori Sutton is the Vice President of Marketing at The Public Health Company. She is a strategic marketing visionary and global brand leader with 20+ years of progressive experience in B2B/B2C SaaS software marketing in large enterprise and SMB markets. She has expertise in leading strategy development, overhauling brands, launching products and driving growth in target verticals. Prior to joining PHC, Lori was the Vice President of Marketing and Growth at SMS-Magic, where she led the global GTM strategy, orchestrated a brand overhaul, developed new messaging and positioning and launched revenue generating campaigns. Lori held marketing and management roles at Model N, Bullet Point Network, Saba and other SaaS software companies where she focused on marketing strategy, business objectives and analytics to drive revenue.

Lori holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts, a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, an Executive Education in Corporate Strategy at Harvard Business School and continues coursework at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Craig Katsuyama is the Vice President of Administrative Services at PHC. He brings extensive experience building companies from the ground up and was instrumental to the launch of IEX Group in 2012, which challenged the status quo of financial markets and created an entirely new stock exchange that works for all investors. Craig spent the last eight years at IEX where he built and oversaw the accounting and finance teams before transitioning to help establish IEX’s Event Stream business, a data messaging platform that applies IEX’s core technology to areas outside of finance. Craig graduated from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada with a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Economics.

Dr. David Fisk is the Chief Medical Officer at The Public Health Company. Prior to joining PHC, Dr. Fisk served as an Infectious Disease Specialist at Sansum Clinic.  He serves as the Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Cottage Health, leading the infection control team at Cottage, working with physicians and hospital leaders on the COVID Incident Command Center to ensure the highest level of preparation and care for patients. In early March 2020, before the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Santa Barbara County, Dr. Fisk advised that the virus was already spreading locally before community members were observing symptoms.


Dr. Fisk completed his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and his Internal Medicine residency and Infectious Diseases fellowship at University of Michigan Medical Center. He is board certified in Infectious Diseases and a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Chris Latko is the Chief Technology Officer at PHC. He joined as a Principal Software Architect where he played a key role in building out the platform. He has over 25 years experience in the technology sector holding positions at companies he started, Fortune 500 companies, and a multitude of startups both in the United States and Japan. He has spent the last decade designing, refining, and reimplementing architectures for hypergrowth startups such as Boxfish, Paxata (acquired by DataRobot), Banjo, and Globality. Chris earned two patents for designing a streaming data ingestion/data normalization platform.

Kendall Burman serves as PHC’s General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining PHC, Burman held leadership roles at Alloy, a data and technology start-up for the progressive political market. Burman previously served as the Deputy General Counsel for Strategic Initiatives at the Department of Commerce and as Associate White House Counsel and Special Assistant to the President in the Obama Administration. She was also a counsel in the cybersecurity and data privacy practice at Mayer Brown and served as Chief Staff Counsel for President Obama’s 2008 campaign.


Burman is a graduate of Bowdoin College and received her J.D. from the University of Chicago where she was an editor of the law review. She was also was a fellow at both the New America Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Dr. Charity Dean is the CEO, Founder and Chairman of The Public Health Company, a venture-backed Silicon Valley technology startup. 


In August 2020 Dr. Dean founded PHC, envisioning a commercial-grade global biosecurity platform to empower enterprises to manage biorisk at scale. Dr. Dean’s obsession with building a new solution was born out of 24 years in public health and the recognition that Silicon Valley innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning could birth this entirely new capability. Two years later PHC PharosTM is a game-changer for numerous businesses providing real-time, dynamic risk management across their global footprint and assets. 


Dr. Dean founded PHC having served as the Assistant Director for the California Department of Public Health where she was part of the executive team under Governor Newsom running the COVID-19 pandemic response. She co-founded and co-chaired California’s COVID-19 Testing Task Force and under her leadership, California went from ranking last in the nation for testing to first in three months. In 2019, Dr. Dean served as Acting State Public Health Officer overseeing 4,300 staff with an annual operating budget of $3.5 billion. 


Before her move to statewide office, she served as the Public Health Officer for Santa Barbara County and oversaw a myriad of disease outbreaks and biological threats; she also served as attending physician for TB, HIV, and homeless medicine at the Santa Barbara Health Care Centers. 


Dr. Dean was awarded Physician of the Year in 2018 by the Central Coast Medical Association and honored as one of the Women of the Year by the California State Legislature.


Dr. Dean is a co-author of Lessons from the COVID War. Her work during the pandemic is the focus of Michael Lewis’ book The Premonition. Dr. Dean has shared her insights about the danger of biological threats and the changes we must make before the next crisis in a number of interviews and podcasts.


Dr. Dean holds a Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine from Tulane University and a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Oregon State University.

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