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. Available here, the 190-page report predicts that climate changes already under way will cause major disruptions. Key findings include:

  • Climate changes are under way in the United States and projected to increase. 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.
  • Crop and livestock production will be increasingly challenged. 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.
  • Threats to human health will increase. 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 NOAA's leadership by the interagency U.S. Global Change Research Program and written in plain language for the public and policymakers.

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