Press Release

Report: Californians Facing Public Health Impacts Related to Climate Change

Vulnerable communities suffering most severe health implications

Kari Birdseye, NRDC
kbirdseye@nrdc.org, 415-875-8243

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Climate change is altering seasonal patterns in California and ramping up the severity and frequency of deadly weather events. According to a new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), these changes, such as hotter days, an extended and more deadly fire season, and record-breaking droughts, are having far-reaching impacts on the health of Californians. 

“Despite California’s leadership in the fight against climate change, the state is experiencing a wide-ranging and severe array of climate-related harms,” said Juanita Constible, NRDC Senior Advocate. “Climate change neither plays fair nor respects state or national boundaries. If anything, the Golden State’s current climate predicament is a critical reminder that the world’s willingness to drive down emissions will be the difference between us all sinking—or us all swimming.”

The report, “Climate Change and Health in California,” asserts that heat-related illnesses, breathing and heart troubles, food and water contamination, traumatic injuries, mental health challenges, and exposure to infectious diseases are plaguing Californians and becoming bigger risks as the world’s climate-changing pollution trends upward. The state’s high exposure to climate hazards and high social and economic vulnerability makes these health threats all the more dangerous.

While the effects of extreme weather and climate events such as the historic drought from late 2011 to early 2017, fires such as the devastating Camp Fire in 2018, and hotter summer days are felt by all Californians, the report highlights that children, the elderly, people of color, those with chronic illnesses, those with disabilities, economically disadvantaged people, people with mental illness, and those who work outdoors face the brunt of health implications from these incidents. 

The report urges California to continue to work with both internal and external stakeholders to turn the goals outlined in the California Natural Resources Agency’s Safeguarding California Plan into more detailed and actionable next steps.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​

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