Climate Change Will Make Us Sicker And Make Our Food Less Nutritious

WASHINGTON — Climate change will likely have dramatic effects on the physical and mental health of the U.S. population, worsening everything from the quality of our food to the severity of fires and floods in populated areas, according to a report from federal agencies released Monday.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program’s assessment identifies a number of ways by which global climate change is expected to pose a direct health risk to people in the U.S. and around the world. Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said the report is meant to highlight that climate is “not just about glaciers and polar bears — it’s about the health of families and our kids.”

“Climate change endangers our health by affecting our food and water sources, the air we breathe and the weather we experience,” McCarthy told reporters Monday. “It will exacerbate certain health effects that already exist, and create new ones.”

The EPA, the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration produced the report, along with experts from five other federal agencies.

While much of the information in the document has been previously reported, taken together it offers a picture of how climate change is expected to affect nearly every aspect of daily life in the near future — in the vast majority of cases, for the worse.

The report notes, for example, that climate change is likely to compromise the food we eat, with higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere bringing down the nutritional value of crops like wheat and rice. Meanwhile, temperature and weather changes could increase the risk of foodborne illnesses like salmonella and norovirus.

The report also projects that by 2030, extreme heat during the summer months could cause the yearly number of premature deaths in the U.S. to climb —> Read More