Climate Change in the Midwest: Impacts, Risks, Vulnerability, and Adaptation

By S. C. Pryor | Go to book overview

9.
Climate Change Vulnerability
and Impacts on Human Health
S. C. GRADY
introduction
Climate change impacts on human health occur through direct and indirect exposure pathways. The most severe and longlasting health impacts are those that result from direct exposure(s) to climate variability and changing-weather patterns, such as heat waves, winds, storms, floods, fires, and drought (see chapter 2 of this volume). Other detrimental, but somewhat more difficult to measure, impacts are those that result from indirect exposure(s), such as changes in air, water, and food quality; ecosystem disruption and the redistribution of disease vectors; economic impacts from changes in agriculture and industry; and settlement/resettlement patterns (IPCC 2007). The IPCC (2007) reports with high confidence, “climate change contributes to the global burden of disease and premature death.” Other specific findings from this report include (see chapter 1 for a discussion of the IPCC protocols for assigning “confidence” to assertions):
“Climate change has altered the seasonal distribution of some allergenic pollen species (high confidence); increased heat-wave-related deaths (medium confidence); and altered the distribution of some infectious disease vectors (medium confidence).”
“Those at greatest risk in all countries are the urban poor, elderly and children, traditional societies, subsistence farmers, and coastal populations (high confidence); and adverse health impacts will be greatest in lowincome countries (high confidence).”
“Projected trends in climate change-related exposures will have mixed effects on the geographic distribution of malaria (very high confidence); increase the num ber of people suffering from death, disease and injury from heat waves, floods, storms, fires and drought (high confidence); increase malnutrition and consequent disorders (high confidence); increase cardio-respiratory morbidity and mortality associated with ground-level ozone (high confidence); reduce deaths from cold, although these will be outweighed by the negative effects of rising temperatures worldwide (high confidence); continue to change the range of some infectious disease vectors (high confidence); increase the burden of diarrheal diseases (medium confidence); and increase the num ber of people at risk of dengue (low confidence).”

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