Your health and the climate in the US: snapshot

A new major report on how climate change impacts the United States was recently released. It’s called the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4).

The US Global Change Research Program, comprising 13 Federal agencies, produces the National Climate Assessment (NCA) for the US Government every four years. The Program was established in 1989 to produce findings on global warming independent of the global IPCC reports.

NCA4 has a chapter dedicated to health impacts.

Top five health impact findings for the United States:

  • An additional 9000 people will die each year, across 49 large US cities, from extreme hot and extreme cold temperatures under a ‘business as usual’ greenhouse gas emissions pathway by the end of this century.
  • Food will contain lower levels of iron, zinc and protein due to higher carbon dioxide concentrations. 
  • Hospitals could save around $15 billion over 10 years by adopting basic energy efficiency and waste-reduction measures. 
  • More people will be exposed to ticks carrying Lyme disease and to mosquitoes that transmit West Nile, chikungunya, dengue, and Zika viruses.
  • Alcohol and tobacco consumption will increase with the anticipated increase in longevity and severity of droughts.

What are some of the solutions?

Social connections, good coping skills, and disaster planning. Above all, the report found, communities that take it upon themselves to come up with solutions to climate risks and projections are going to survive.

Here is a diagram showing how climate change impacts on the health of vulnerable communities:

Information graphic depicting the impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities
Source: EPA, NCA4

You can read more about the impacts on health in the United States here.

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