How Does Climate Change Affect Health?

Climate Change and Health  /  How Does Climate Change Affect Health?

Strong partnerships are key to helping communities better prepare for the health effects of climate change.

In the United States and around the world, weather events like hurricanes, floods and extreme heat pose the risk of increased injuries and premature deaths. As rainfall patterns change, food and water supplies will be impacted, increasing the risks of malnutrition and diarrheal diseases, while wildfires and longer warm seasons pose risks to respiratory health through air pollution and increased allergens.

Changes in vector ecology will see increasing rates and ranges of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue and Zika virus. Water-borne diseases like cholera and leptospirosis will become more prevalent, and the combined effects of these physical threats and environmental deterioration will affect mental health and wellbeing. As the climate continues to change, some existing health threats will intensify, and new health threats will emerge.

Though all of humankind will be impacted by the health threats of climate change, not everyone is equally at risk. Under-resourced, marginalized and overburdened communities, including communities of color, tribal and rural communities, will be the least able to cope with negative impacts to social and environmental determinants of health–clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and adequate shelter.

Strong and varied partnerships are key to helping these communities better prepare. By bringing together the combined experience, skills and resources of community-based organizations, non-public health partners, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other academic and cross-sector organizations we can develop and disseminate tools these communities can use to strengthen climate resiliency. By training local public health professionals to recognize and address the health impacts of climate change, we can help to bolster local capacity at the ground level, where it is needed most. When it comes to climate change, we are stronger when we work together.

Learn more about the CDC Foundation's work on the health impacts of climate change.