Stop Climate Change, Save Lives
What's At Stake
A warming planet is fueling the most serious public health crisis of our time, impacting people across the globe.
Extreme temperatures are already here: 2020 tied with 2016 as the hottest year on record, with 2019 coming in second—in fact, 19 of the 20 warmest years ever recorded have occurred in the past two decades. As heat waves are becoming more intense and more frequent—worsening heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and cardiovascular and respiratory conditions—NRDC is helping communities adapt and prepare. India’s Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, for example, designed an early warning system for heat based on scientific research conducted by NRDC and our partners, which is serving as a model for other city, state, and national programs.
Extreme weather events fueled by climate change will likely cause catastrophic damage, higher death tolls, and more injuries and illnesses. In recent years, cataclysmic hurricanes and flooding have destroyed communities—mostly communities of color and low-income areas—and led to thousands of lives lost. Drought and wildfires have ravaged the West Coast. In addition to pushing for climate-resilient infrastructure, NRDC also connects the dots between such events and the toll to our health and our economy—just six extreme weather events between 2002 and 2009, for example, totaled at least $14 billion in health costs.
The cascading impacts of a shifting climate will impact our health in less obvious ways, too. Rising heat worsens smog, which causes eye, throat, and lung damage and is particularly dangerous for the millions of people with respiratory illnesses, like asthma—disproportionately impacting communities of color, particular Black and Latino communities. NRDC is also raising awareness on the links between climate change and infectious diseases such as Lyme disease and Dengue fever.
We can see all these changes happening now—and without significant climate action, both our ecosystem and our health will continue to pay the price.
Tell President Biden and key officials to keep doing more to fight the climate crisis
Reporting, expert commentary, analysis, and more.
Extreme weather costs lives. It also costs money—a lot of it. Someone has to pay. As things stand, it is the victims and taxpayers picking up the tab. And the tab will keep growing until we do something.
The Climate Crisis: Extreme Heat and Health
Very hot days—which are only getting worse due to climate change—are harming the health of residents across the country.
Climate change and expanding urban development in fire-prone areas are putting more people in the path of dangerous wildfires over longer periods of each year.
NRDC works with partners in India to strengthen and scale climate resilience.
Locations across the state recently broke 46 records for high overnight temperatures and tied 44 other records as humid conditions locked in dangerous nighttime heat.
If you’re one of the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who suffer from pollen allergies, this recent finding that temperature increases propelled by climate change is contributing to longer, more intense pollen seasons isn’t academic—it’s a matter of health.
The Health Impacts of Climate Change
Climate change poses challenges to our well-being—and the more carbon pollution we put into the air, the worse things will get.
How Air Pollution Kills
The biology of death caused by particulate matter.