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Climate Change Is a Threat to Health

Climate Change Threatens Your Health

Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing human health today. As temperature and precipitation patterns change, the delicate balance of climate, weather events and life is disrupted.

Although few people are aware of the impact climate change may have on their health, the health effects are serious and widespread. Disease, injury and death can result from climate-induced natural disasters, heat-related illness, pest- and waterborne diseases, air and water pollution and damage to crops and drinking water sources.

Children, the poor, the elderly, and those with a weak or impaired immune system are especially vulnerable.

We, and countries around the world, must act now to slow and eventually reverse climate change. That means slashing fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions; shifting to clean renewable energies, and preparing our communities for the degree of climate change that will come by improving our public health infrastructure, disease surveillance, and emergency response capabilities.

PSR provides information on a range of climate-related health threats:

Climate Change Basics

Scientific evidence continues to mount that the earth’s climate is changing rapidly. Global average surface temperatures have increased by about one degree Fahrenheit since the beginning of the 20th century, and nine of the ten warmest years on record have occurred during the 21st century

Climate scientists agree that human activities are the primary cause of this warming. As we burn fossil fuels to power our homes, industries and transportation systems, we add more and more carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has increased by over 30 percent since pre-industrial times. It is now higher than at any point in the last 420,000 years.

Unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, temperatures are projected to increase by an additional 2 to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.

Already, rising temperatures have disrupted climate patterns around the world, resulting in more frequent intense storms and more intense heat waves.  Melting glaciers and rising oceans also result from climate change.  

If we are to live on a cool, healthy planet, we must move quickly to clean, renewable energy sources that are not derived from fossil fuels.  In the meantime, our communities must take measures to increse their resilience against the dangerous consequences of climate change that are already inevitable.


To promote public understanding of the relationship between climate change and health, PSR has developed a variety of resources including webinars and fact sheets. To view and share these resources, please see our PSR Climate Change and Health Resources page. 

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Resources

In the Spotlight

  • June 19, 2014
    Webinar: Health and Hydraulic Fracturing
    Thursday, June 19th at 8 pm ET, join us for part 3: Health Impacts Reported by Families Residing near Hydro Fracking Operations with Poune Saberi, MD, MPH.