Climate change-related heat could cause 11,000 deaths in the United States by the summer of 2030, according to a new report from the White House.
“As the climate continues to change, the risks to human health will grow, exacerbating existing health threats and creating new public health challenges, and impacting more people in more places,” a White House overview of the report reads. “From children to the elderly, every American is vulnerable to the health impacts associated with climate change, now and in the future.”
The report, which was created with cooperation between the Department of Defense, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other agencies, lays out all of the ways climate change will affect Americans in the future. Over 100 government scientists at eight federal agencies worked on the report overall.
“Air pollution and airborne allergens will likely increase, worsening allergy and asthma conditions,” the overview says. It explains ozone-related health issues caused by climate change will lead to thousands of premature deaths by 2030.
Ragweed pollen season has increased by 27 days since 1995, which increases asthma issues, wildfires, and ozone levels, according to ABC10.
Aside from deaths from extreme heat, the report explains climate change will increase lyme disease because of warmer winters and springs. It says water-related illness and food-borne illness will increase as well.
In order to respond to these climate change risks, the Obama administration has laid out a new plan for combating climate change. The plan includes studying how climate change puts children at risk, increasing climate change education, and enhancing community preparedness for issues like extreme heat.
“A better understanding of how climate change affects our health, and the health of our children and grandchildren, underscores the need for urgent action to combat the threats climate change poses on American citizens and communities,” the overview says.
The report gets worse as it looks further into the future. It claims heat from climate change will kill 27,000 in the year 2100.
“Because of the science we have in this report and the modeling that was done, we can say that the increase in heat-related deaths far exceeds the decrease in cold related deaths. And we know that because of science,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, according to ABC10.
The report claims climate change will become worse for public health than polio was, which killed thousands of people a year in its height.
The surgeon general told reporters that while polio had a vaccine that could stop it from threatening Americans, there is no vaccine for climate change. The only thing that can be done to slow climate change is to approach it from many different angles.
“This isn’t just about glaciers and polar bears. It’s about the health of our family and our kids,” Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said Monday, according to the Washington Post. “To protect ourselves and future generations, we need to understand the health impacts of climate change that are already happening, and those that we expect to see down the road.”
The report was heavily peer-reviewed and took years to create. It also points out the growing population in many areas will contribute to the problem, as that means more people will be threatened by the effects of climate change. President Obama has made the fight against climate change a major part of his focus in the past two years, especially since attending the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.
Impoverished people, children, and the elderly are expected to be the hardest hit by the effects of climate change, which means the government will have to focus on helping those populations especially.
[Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images]