About Climate Change

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines climate change as any significant change in temperature, precipitation, wind, and other measurable weather patterns that lasts for at least ten years. While climate change is a global challenge, the effects will be different across geographic regions and populations. In New York State, not all areas will experience the same types of climate changes. In some areas, temperatures may stay the same or decrease, and other areas may see an increase in temperature or experience less rainfall or snow. Extreme weather events, such as severe heat waves, intense droughts, torrential rain and tropical cyclones, may happen more frequently. Some types of air pollution may also increase due to an increase in temperatures.

What is Causing Climate Change?

Human activities, such as burning coal, oil or gas for energy, clearing large forest areas, and some farming practices, have contributed to a significant increase in the level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Increasing greenhouse gases cause heat to be trapped in the atmosphere and cause temperatures to rise, warming oceans and raising sea levels. Learn more about what is causing climate change.

Climate Change and Your Health

Although scientific understanding of the effects of climate change is emerging, scientists believe that changes in climate can affect health in many ways. Over time, climate changes can affect the frequency of severe weather events, the availability of clean air and water, food supplies, and the occurrence of some infectious diseases.

Severe weather events can have a direct impact on health. Heat waves can cause serious health problems, including heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and aggravate the effects of chronic conditions like asthma, heart disease, and diabetes. Unpredictable rainfall patterns can lead to drought or severe flooding, both of which can cause injury, death, and impacts to drinking water and the home environment.

Climate changes also can lead to an increase in infectious diseases transmitted by mosquito and tick bites, such as Lyme disease or West Nile Virus. These diseases may spread to previously unaffected areas, as warmer temperatures provide better conditions for ticks and mosquitoes to live. Other weather-related factors, such as precipitation and cold weather patterns, also can affect insect habitats and in turn influence the rate of these kinds of diseases.

Learn more about climate change and how it affects your health.

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