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Climate change is taking a huge toll on Americans' health, so much so that it could constitute a public health crisis, a new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), suggests.
The study, published in the AGU journal GeoHealth, finds that Americans endured more than $10 billion in health costs from 10 climate-sensitive events in 2012. That stunning toll likely has continued, or risen, in recent years with the increasing impacts from climate change.
Public - Health - Costs - Government - Analyses
But these enormous public health costs are rarely, if ever, tallied in government analyses, which typically address property, agriculture and infrastructure losses from major severe weather events—leaving out the deaths, hospitalizations, emergency department visits, outpatient medical care, prescribed medications, and lost wages associated with those events.
"Climate change represents a major public health emergency. But its destructive and expensive toll on Americans' health has largely been absent from the climate policy debate," said study lead author Dr. Vijay Limaye, a scientist in NRDC's Science Center. "Our research shows that health-related costs added at least another 26 percent to the national price tag for 2012 severe weather-related damages.
Suffering - Cost - Reason - Action - Climate
"This continuing untold human suffering and staggering cost is another reason we must take assertive action to curb climate change now. Cutting greenhouse gas pollution and expanding clean energy, while also investing in preparedness and climate adaptation, is the prescription for a safer, healthier future."
The new analyzed national and state-collected health surveillance data across a wide range of 10 types of climate-sensitive events around the country in 2012.
Analysis - Costs - Wildfires - Colorado - Washington
The analysis examined costs from wildfires in Colorado and Washington; ozone air pollution in Nevada; extreme heat in Wisconsin; infectious disease outbreaks of tick-borne Lyme disease in Michigan and mosquito-borne West Nile Virus in Texas; extreme weather in Ohio; Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey and New York;...
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