Science Resources

How Will Climate Change Impact Human Health?

Global warming and climate change are real. There is a current warming trend and this will have considerable consequences for the climate and the environment in profound ways. In many respects, this is already happening. None of this can be dismissed by climate deniers who cherry-pick the start and end dates of their intervals to make it falsely appear as if there is no warming.

Climate scientists often find themselves in a lose-lose situation. If they do their scientific research with integrity by correcting for empirical biases and errors, they get accused of “manipulating” the data. Had they just skipped these vital corrections, climate deniers accuse them of pushing low quality and unreliable data.

One climate aspect that is not talked about as often in the media is that climate change will also have substantial negative impacts on human health. What will climate change mean for death rates due to heat events? How will it impact the incidence and geographical distributions of human diseases caused by bacteria that thrive in contaminated water? What will happen with the air quality? What about Lyme disease spread by ticks? How will food security be affected by climate change? Should we also expect that there will be a discernible negative impact on mental health?

The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States (with the subtitle “A Scientific Assessment”) is a 2016 report by the U. S. Global Change Research Program. It investigates how the climate consequences of global warming will affect mortality and illness related to temperature changes, air quality, extreme weather events, diseases that are spread by non-human vectors, diseases that spread via water, food safety, mental illness, and especially vulnerable populations.

The report concludes that climate change will lead to many harmful health consequences in the United States. Increased temperatures and longer heat-related events will mean that more people die from these events. More wildfires will increase ozone and particulate matters in the air and contribute to heart and lung disease. More flooding and contaminated water will increase the number of people who drown and get gastrointestinal diseases.

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Ticks that can spread Lyme disease will have become active earlier in the year and geographically expand their range northwards. Higher temperatures will alter the spread of human pathogens and cause disease such as Cholera and Salmonella. Finally, it is concluded that increased stress and mental health issues is a likely result of the impacts of climate change, especially for already vulnerable populations.

Summaries of each chapter of the report can be read on their main website. There is an executive summary available here with a cache here. The report can be downloaded in its entirety or individual chapters by going here. A direct link to the full report can be found here. A cache of the report can be gotten from here. If one takes a closer look at the dates this report was cached, it occurred frequently on January, 25. This could be related to the climate crackdown currently being underway by the United States government. Spread this report if you can.

Debunking Denialism has curated many other climate science resources. The booklet Climate Change: Evidence and Causes provides an easy-to-read primer on climate science, including answers to frequently asked questions. The textbook The Discovery of Global Warming describes the development of climate research and knowledge of how the climate works. It is a great book for those who want to learn the background and history of climate science. Another complicated issue is climate models and the book Demystifying Climate Models does just that. It explains how and why climate models are used, their strengths as well as limitations. Even more climate science material can be found in the section called Earth Science that also includes geology.


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