Body of Evidence, Face of a Child

Climate change affects human health, right here in the US. One face of climate change is the face of an asthmatic child, using an inhaler to breathe.

NRDC has been working for years to connect the dots between the rapidly-growing body of evidence about carbon pollution, which causes climate change, and its effects on human health.

Carbon pollution is causing climate change. Climate change makes temperatures rise and worsens smog pollution, which causes asthma attacks and other serious respiratory illnesses. There are 25 million Americans with asthma, and those numbers are rising, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you know one of those 25 million people, you know someone whose health is being threatened by climate change.

Read more here about the range of climate-health vulnerabilities in your backyard and even more ways that carbon pollution, and the climate change it causes, affect health:

Six Ways Climate Change Threatens Health

Air Pollution Rising heat worsens smog; burning coal and oil emits carbon and also particle pollution; plants produce greater amounts of allergenic pollen as carbon levels in the air increase.

Extreme Heat  Heat waves can send thousands to emergency rooms and cost health care systems millions of dollars; climate change brings longer, more intense heat waves.

Infectious Diseases Hotter summers can make disease-carrying insects more active, for longer seasons; illnesses like dengue fever, West Nile virus, and Lyme disease can spread into new areas.

Drought Hotter days and nights, and changing rainfall patterns reduce water supply quantity and quality, and diminish food security.

Flooding Climate change intensifies rainfall; heavy rains increase risk of drinking water contamination and illness; floods can force communities to relocate.

Extreme Weather In 2011, thousands of record-breaking extreme weather events harmed communities and health in the US; climate change is contributing to some types of extreme weather events.

Climate change looms as one of our most serious public health threats, yet few people are aware of the many dangers posed by a warming planet. We can limit these health risks by limiting carbon pollution. That is terrific news. We can create healthier, more secure communities for our children and ourselves.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to propose standards to limit carbon pollution from new power plants soon. That will be an enormous step toward creating those healthier, more secure communities.

Americans rely on EPA to protect our health from dangerous air pollution. That’s what the new carbon limit will do, along with related clean air standards like the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, the Cross State Air Pollution Rule and the vehicle emissions rules. All these can reduce air pollution, protect our health, save us millions of dollars in health care costs, and add to the quality of life for our families in ways you can’t put a pricetag on.

The carbon pollution rules address climate change.

EPA needs to issue a related standard that will reduce carbon pollution from the really dirty existing plants. Together, those would tackle the 2 billion-plus tons of carbon that coal-fired power plants spew into the air each year --- and would be a way to limit about 40% of the carbon pollution we produce.

If we can help protect the health of 25 million of our kids, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, and co-workers, we can soon say thanks to the EPA for taking this historic step.