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Why Climate and Health?

  • Failure to combat climate change will have a devastating impact on human and environmental health in a number of ways:
    • A warming global temperature is already beginning to increase the prevalence of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and diarrhea—which already account for over three million deaths annually (WHO 2008).
    • Ozone pollution is worsening air quality, which is responsible for a global rise in respiratory illnesses and deaths (WHO 2008).
    • The respiratory tract is a major target of exposure to air pollutants, and respiratory diseases are associated with both short- and long-term exposures to poor air quality (Kravchenko et al., 2014).
    • An increase in the frequency and intensity of heatwaves will increase mortality and illness due to heat stress and heat stroke. As healthcare leaders, we have an obligation to address these concerns to protect human health.
  • Superstorm Sandy was the second-costliest hurricane in United States history, with an estimated $70 billion spent on recovery. The international scientific consensus is that with climate change, such extreme weather events as this will continue to intensify and increase in frequency.
  • According to the World Health Organization, seven million premature deaths occur from air pollution exposure every year—one in eight of total global deaths (2014).
  • WHO also reports that air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk.
  • Researchers in North Carolina found that improved air quality is associated with fewer deaths from respiratory illnesses.
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