Climate change refers to a significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time. A new study by researchers from Columbia University and the University of Washington has revealed that climate change presents a substantial threat to physical and mental health, and may also create social instability, conflict and violence. The researchers said, "Climate variability and change may also lead to widespread migration away from areas that can no longer provide sufficient food, water and shelter for the current populations."
The study noted that the coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change due to hazards such as changing water use patterns, shoreline erosion, sea level rise and storm surge. Professor Irwin Redlener from Columbia University said, "The science of climate change and the threat to human and population health is irrefutable, and the threat is evolving quickly. Unfortunately, we are now at a point where simply slowing climate change, while critical, is not enough. We need to simultaneously develop and deploy ways of mitigating the impact and adapting to the consequences of this environmental disaster."
Public health impact in the US Gulf Coast would be severe as this region is expected to experience increases in extreme temperatures, sea level rise and possibly fewer but more intense hurricanes. Elisa Petkova from the National Center for Disaster Preparedness said, "Climate change may amplify existing public health impacts, such as heat-related morbidity and mortality, malnutrition resulting from droughts, and injury and deaths following exposure to floods. Although future trends are difficult to project, climate change may also facilitate the re-introduction of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever to the Gulf Coast and other vulnerable coastal regions."
The study is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.