• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous supporter has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency

Rising global temperatures are intensifying the effects of extreme weather events across the United States and around the world. Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, floods, and severe storms are becoming the norm, not the exception.

Extreme weather events don’t just hurt people with blunt force — they also spread disease and other serious health impacts. For already vulnerable populations, the health risks can be deadly.

Extreme heat can cause cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and respiratory effects, and even death.  Urban heat islands amplify impacts on cities, while long hours in the heat put farm workers and other outdoor laborers at severe risk too.

Extreme cold can cause hypothermia, cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, and (as with heat) death. Prolonged exposure due to homelessness or housing insecurity puts transient populations at extreme risk for cold exposure in particular.

Then there’s hunger, which twice as many people are at risk of suffering by 2050, due to droughts and infectious diseases.

“Climate change is already contributing to the burden of disease and premature mortality,” reports the European Academies Scientific Advisory Council. “Without prompt and effective action, the problems are forecast to worsen considerably.”

Too many communities are still recovering from extreme weather events, only to get hit again — and again, and again. From flooded farmlands in the Midwest to rising sea levels on the coasts, communities across America face the loss of their livelihoods, homes, and lives, with little time to recover before the next disaster strikes.

The challenges are starker still in places already facing limited access to health and medical resources. A lack of health insurance and local doctors, plus poverty and remote locations, makes access to care particularly difficult for the majority of rural Americans, who may have to travel several hours to the nearest provider.

Many of these areas are highly vulnerable to natural disasters. In California alone, according to McClatchy, more than 2.7 million residents live in “very high fire hazard severity zones,” at risk of devastating wildfires like the Woolsey Fire or Camp Fire.

When weather-related disasters strike, accessing health services — particularly emergency services — can become almost impossible. When roads close due to floods or fires, mild health scares can become life-threatening emergencies.

Indeed, thanks to climate change, natural disasters are claiming even more lives. Who gets hit hardest?

Rural communities. Farmers and farm workers. Island communities. Coastal communities. Towns in low-lying areas in flood country and flat-area towns in tornado country, but also towns that haven’t experienced so-called “100 year storms” until now.

Particularly at risk are low-income communities, who already have limited resources to respond. So are people of color, who disproportionately experience not only the impacts of climate change, but also exposure to pollution, methane emissions, and toxins.

LGBTQ people on the margins of society, particularly LGBTQ youth — who face discrimination and violence at high rates — are more likely to experience homelessness, exposing them disproportionately to extreme heat and cold.

In short, the climate crisis is a health crisis. That’s why organizations like Physicians for Social Responsibility are mobilizing with everything we’ve got to tackle this like any other health emergency.

With a coordinated mass response from everyone from health care providers to policy makers to ordinary citizens, we can save our future. Our communities are already paying the price every second we fail to act swiftly and comprehensively.

This threat is literally in our backyards.

More articles by:

Olivia Alperstein is the Media Relations Manager for Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
Anthony DiMaggio
Fake News in Trump’s America
Andrew Levine
Trump’s End Days
Jeffrey St. Clair
High Plains Grifter: the Life and Crimes of George W. Bush
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Fighters Always Feared Trump Would be a Treacherous Ally
Paul Street
On the TrumpenLeft and False Equivalence
Dave Lindorff
Sure Trump is ‘Betraying the Kurds!’ But What’s New about That?
Rob Urie
Democrats Impeach Joe Biden, Fiddle as the Planet Burns
Sam Pizzigati
Inequality is Literally Killing Us
Jill Richardson
What Life on the Margins Feels Like
Mitchell Zimmerman
IMPOTUS: Droit de seigneur at Mar-a-Lago
Robert Hunziker
Methane SOS
Lawrence Davidson
Donald Trump, the Christian Warrior
William Hartung – Mandy Smithburger
The Pentagon is Pledging to Reform Itself, Again. It Won’t.
Richard Moser
The Empire Is Running Out of War Stories. Or is it? Will American Exceptionalism Rise Again?
Roger Harris
Why Trump is Facing Impeachment
Doug Lummis
Everything Going Wrong in Okinawa
Ramzy Baroud
Administrative Torture: Free Heba al-Labadi, a Jordanian Citizen in Israeli Prison
Christopher Ketcham
Ode to the Drums of Ginger Baker
W. T. Whitney
Upcoming Elections Represent Testing Time for Bolivia’s Socialist Government
Louis Proyect
Building Soldier Resistance Under the Shadows of Fascism
Mark Ashwill
Reflections on General Giap and the End of an Era in Vietnam
Gabriel Leão
Killing the Messengers: Rising Violence Against Journalists and Indigenous Leaders Defending the Amazon
Graham Peebles
Climate Change: All Talk No Action
Arthur Hoyle
The Meaning of Donald Trump
Dean Baker
Those Quaint Corporate Scandals in Japan
Laura Santina
Take Their Feet Off Our Necks
Julian Vigo
The New Workers’ Revolution is Afoot
Robert Koehler
The Rights of Nature
Dan Bacher
New Report Reveals Oil Waste in CA Aquifers
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail