Environmental Protection

Climate Change Report Stresses Human Health Impacts

Widespread climate impacts are already occurring and affecting water, energy, and transportation, the government's new report states.

More heat stress cases, more violent storms, and more waterborne diseases are only a few of the health and safety impacts predicted in the U.S. government's new global warming report, "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States," which was issued June 16.The 190-page report predicts that climate changes already under way will cause major disruptions. Key findings include:

  • Climate-related changes are already observed in the United States and its coastal waters. These include increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows. These changes are projected to grow.
  • Agriculture is considered one of the sectors most adaptable to changes in climate. However, increased heat, pests, water stress, diseases, and weather extremes will pose adaptation challenges for crop and livestock production.
  • Health impacts of climate change are related to heat stress, waterborne diseases, poor air quality, extreme weather events, and diseases transmitted by insects and rodents.
Robust public health infrastructure can reduce the potential for negative impacts.The report was produced under National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's leadership by the interagency U.S. Global Change Research Program and written in plain language for the public and policymakers.

In addition to discussing the impacts of climate change in the United States, the report also highlights the choices for managing greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation strategies.

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