WASHINGTON, D.C.–Global warming conversations have shifted from whether climate is changing to how we will deal with the inevitable consequences. And the price you pay will depend on where you live and how well you prepare, suggests one of the most detailed studies to date on global warming and its likely effect on human activity.
“Like politics, global climate change is local,” said Michael J. Scott, a staff scientist at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. “Our behavior where we live must change with the climate if we are to stave off economic and natural catastrophemeet the challenge Mother Nature may hand us in the next few years.”
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As a result, governments and health officials need to begin to think about how to respond to an anticipated increase in the number and scope of climate-related health crises, ranging from killer heat waves and famine, to floods and waves of infectious diseases.
That, in a nutshell, was the message delivered to scientists here today (Feb. 20) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) by Jonathan A. Patz, an authority on the human health effects of global environmental change.
As the world’s climate warms, and as people make widespread alterations to the global landscape, human populations will become far more vulnerable to heat-related mortality, air pollution-related illnesses, infectious diseases and malnutrition, Patz says.