Climate change isn’t just a future problem – it’s happening now – and it threatens our health in several ways. Here’s how it is expected to impact Michigan in the coming years – and possibly your state as well.
For those of you who think of climate change as an abstract problem that will never actually affect our daily lives, think again. Climate change-related weather patterns are already wreaking havoc around the world.
Here at home, climate change has been declared an “emerging public health threat” in Michigan, with many other states experiencing similar impacts.
A recent report, the “Michigan Climate and Health Profile Report 2015,” was released earlier this year by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences Assessments Program — a partnership between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.
The report identifies 5 potential areas of concern based on current and projected climate trends in Michigan.
However, even if you don’t live in Michigan, you can expect to see similar problems in your state over the coming decade.
Here are 5 areas in particular where climate change can threaten our health:
1.) Respiratory diseases. Projected conditions favor increased air pollution and worsening respiratory disease. An earlier and longer growing season for plants could increase pollen levels, which in turn could exacerbate allergies and asthma.
2.) Heat-related illnesses. Heat waves featuring high temperatures, high humidity and stagnant air masses could become more common and may lead to increased levels of heat-related illness and death.
3.) Water-borne diseases. Across the Upper Midwest, extreme precipitation events have become more intense and more frequent over the past century. In coming decades, intense precipitation events and flooding are projected to stay the same or increase. Runoff from sewage and septic systems will remain a problem, potentially increasing the risk of water-borne diseases and, in some cases, harmful algal blooms.
4.) Vector-borne diseases. Projections point to warmer winters, earlier springs and warmer summers, conditions suitable for mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and tick-carried diseases such as Lyme disease.
5.) Carbon monoxide poisoning and weather-related injuries. Weather-related power outages are likely to increase, especially in the winter, leading to increased use of generators and related cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. An increased frequency of freezing rain and flooding will raise the risk of motor vehicle accidents and other types of injuries.