Skip to Navigation
Skip to Content
Share this page

Support PSR!

Your membership supports PSR's work to reduce global warming, eliminate toxics in our environment and abolish nuclear weapons. YOU make our work possible. Thank you.

Donate Now »

Heat Advisory: Protecting Health on a Warming Planet
by Dr. Alan Lockwood

Drawing on peer-reviewed scientific and medical research, Dr. Lockwood meticulously details the symptoms of climate change and their medical side effects.

On sale now! Enter code M17ENV25 at checkout for 25% discount.

Global Warming Report Defines Public Health Threat

April 6, 2007

(Washington, DC) -- The release of the Working Group II report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change bolsters the need for immediate action to address global warming.  The summary, which focuses on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, is intended for the use of policy makers and lays out the ramifications for human health if we do not act to slow, stop and reverse global warming.

Dr. Michael McCally, executive director for Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), commented that the report “reinforces the concerns expressed by the medical and public health communities.  Global warming will create real human health impacts, and in the U.S. heat and disease could lead to a public health crisis.” 

Among the findings of the report for North America and the U.S.:

  • some of the most significant impacts will be caused by increased deaths, disease and injury due to increasing floods, storms, heat waves, droughts, and fires
  • infectious diseases, such as those carried by insects and rodents, may become a growing problem
  • a likely increase in cardio-respiratory diseases because of the higher concentrations of ground level ozone (smog) that accompany higher air temperatures

PSR has been pointing out for several years the connections between global warming and human health.  Respiratory and cardiovascular disease, the threat of pests and water borne disease and the results of weather catastrophes like Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico are the very real and tangible results of global warming.  For additional analysis from PSR, click here.

The report also points to the potential rise in disease among human population because of warmer climates.  Increased cases of West Nile Virus from mosquitoes, Hantavirus from mice or Lyme disease from deer ticks all are potential threats to citizens in the U.S.   In large part this would occur as freezing days (those days in which the temperature does not rise to more than 32 degrees, F) begin to diminish.  Insects and other pests are not killed off in the usual numbers, and the rise in those populations corresponds to more contact with humans.

Extreme heat events create serious health problems.  According to the Centers for Disease Control more than 400 citizens in the U.S., often the most vulnerable populations, die from heat related illnesses annually.  When one of these heat events occurs in an urban area, the numbers can increase dramatically, as evidenced by the heat wave in the Midwest in 1995 that led to more than 700 deaths.

The extent to which these impacts become widespread will vary to the degree in which the U.S. and other nations respond.  PSR is encouraging the Congress to adopt mandatory controls on greenhouse gases that would help slow, stop and reverse global warming.  As the largest single emitter of greenhouse gases, the U.S. has a responsibility to show leadership in this global effort.  That leadership should help to spur other lagging nations to implement control efforts, especially those nations where the health impacts already are being felt.

“Leadership on global warming would go beyond controlling the environmental damage; it would help to stop a global health crisis that is making its way to our shores,” concluded McCally.

To download the full report, click here

Action Alerts

More action alertsĀ»

Resources

  • Saving Energy, Saving Lives: The Health Impacts of Avoiding Power Plant Pollution with Energy Efficiency

    PSR and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)'s new report examines the public health benefits and medical cost savings of cutting annual electric consumption by 15 percent. Read more »

  • Natural Gas Health Impacts Symposium

    PSR is proud to have participated in "Natural Gas Infrastructure and Public Health," a high-powered conference in Boston that brought together university researchers, public health departments and concerned citizens. Watch Environment & Health Director Barbara Gottlieb's overview presentation here, timestamp 11:10 - 46:05. Read more »

  • Fracking Compendium 5 Water Excerpt

    Given the timely and important consideration of the issue by state officials in Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility, along with Concerned Health Professionals of New York, has released excerpts from the upcoming Fifth Edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking. Released in Miami in advance of the full report, this new document contains an up-to-date analysis and compilation of the science on water contamination risks from drilling, fracking, and associated activities. Read more »

In the Spotlight

  • March 3, 2018
    WPSR Annual Dinner and Fundraiser
    Join Washington PSR for a reception, a delicious meal, keynote address by David Korten, presentation of the 2018 Paul Beeson and Malcolm Peterson awards, and a live auction.