As global temperatures rise and extreme weather events become more common, the risks of heat-related illnesses and deaths, as well as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases linked to air pollution, are increasing—and often children, the elderly, and low-income communities are the most vulnerable to these dangers.
NRDC connects the dots between events fueled by climate change and health, such as how wildfires contribute to asthma and how severe rainfall can spread disease. More than 24 million Americans suffer from asthma, and warmer temperatures worsen smog, which can trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. NRDC works with the American Academy of Pediatricians, American Thoracic Association, National Hispanic Medical Association, and other partners to educate communities and government officials about these risks and the need to reduce pollution. We also encourage state and national agencies to work toward reducing carbon pollution from power plants. When we cut down carbon pollution, we also reduce the amount of other harmful air pollutants spewed out by power plants, like fine particles—and that's a double bonus for health.
Extreme heat is another deadly hallmark of climate change, particularly in India. When a severe heat wave hit the city of Ahmedabad in 2010, the heat proved lethal for many people—especially residents in slums. Experts say that the heat wave caused more than 1,000 deaths. NRDC’s India Initiative is helping communities prepare for heat waves and prevent heat-related illness. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation designed a Heat Action Plan based on scientific research conducted by NRDC and our partners. The plan teaches residents how to prepare for extreme heat and provides an early-warning system to alert people when temperatures rise to dangerous levels. It also ensures that agencies are better prepared to respond to dangerous heat waves. This effort is serving as a model for other state and national programs.