It may seem obvious: Heat kills. Wildfires burn. Flooding drowns. But the sprawling health effects of a rapidly warming world can also be subtle. Heat sparks violence and disrupts sleep. Wildfire smoke can trigger respiratory events thousands of miles away. Flooding can increase rates of suicide and mental health problems. Warmer winters expand the range of disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks.
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The rapidly warming climate is the “greatest threat” to global public health, more than 200 medical journals are warning in an unprecedented joint statement that urges world leaders to cut heat-trapping emissions to avoid “catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse.”
Many of the dead were found alone, in homes without air conditioning or fans. Some were elderly — one as old as 97. The body of an immigrant farm laborer was found in an Oregon nursery.
Winters are warming faster than other seasons across much of the United States. While that may sound like a welcome change for those bundled in scarves and hats, it’s causing a cascade of unpredictable impacts in communities across the country.