Public Resource
Climate Change and Public Health: Building More Resilient Communities
Regis College

The effects of climate change on public health couldn’t be clearer. The 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 2010. In fact, 2022 marked the eighth year in a row that average global temperatures were 34 degrees higher than pre-industrial (1850-1900) average temperatures. Rising sea levels, compromised air and water quality, and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events all speak to the stark reality that the climate is changing. Drought and excessive rainfall offer stark examples of how climate change affects public health. This can lead to rising prices, which can exacerbate food insecurity and lead to malnutrition. Air pollution can cause temporary irritation to the eyes and respiratory tract and trigger asthma attacks. However, air pollution can have much longer-lasting health effects as well: Once in the bloodstream, these harmful substances can circulate through the whole body, causing inflammation, suppressing the immune system, and disrupting the ability of biological systems to detoxify. Severe storms, such as hurricanes and blizzards, pose immediate dangers to affected communities. Compared to an average of two heat waves occurring every year in the 1960s, today, an average of six occur every year. Education, preparation and monitoring, identification and monitoring, and climate adaptation and resilience plans are key to responding to climate public health threats.