Before you do anything else, you might like a difficult Washington Post quiz…



A changing climate has widespread implications for human health. The World Health Organization writes that “over the last 50 years, human activities — particularly the burning of fossil fuels — have released sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to trap additional heat in the lower atmosphere and affect the global climate.

“In the last 130 years, the world has warmed by approximately 0.85°C. Each of the last 3 decades has been successively warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.

“Although global warming may bring some localized benefits, such as fewer winter deaths in temperate climates and increased food production in certain areas, the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be overwhelmingly negative. Climate change affects social and environmental determinants of health — clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.”

Flooding, heat events, starvation, fires, more infectious disease, drought, unsafe drinking water and less access to food are clearly bad for people’s health! Pictures of polar bears on shrinking ice floes grab at our heartstrings, but this is about our grandchildren, our neighbors, and our friends. In 2009 the prestigious British medical Journal, The Lancet got it exactly right in calling climate change “the biggest global health threat of this century”.

Today’s clinicians see the toll climate change is taking on the health, safety, and well-being of our patients and our communities.  We see our patients and our grandchildren wheezing and coughing when smoke from wildfires pollutes our air.  All over the world including the US, we see excess deaths from heat events, and destruction and death related to flooding and excess rain. And the twin sibling of climate change, air pollution, has been associated with 8-10 excess deaths on the planet today. Climate change and air pollution share the same root cause (using fossil fuel to create energy), but while impacts of climate change are baked into the atmosphere for decades almost no matter what we do, the positive impacts of cleaner air accrue very quickly!

While there have been several previous “mass extinctions” on earth, this is the first of them that is “anthropogenic”(ie, created by human activity). A partial list of consequences of climate change and air pollution includes lung cancer, chronic lung disease, asthma, heart disease, increased premature death, ER visits, and hospitalizations, school and work absenteeism, violence, depression, suicide, substance abuse, increased infant mortality and decreased cognitive development of children, and deaths and injuries related to floods, draughts, heat events, and other extreme weather events and expansion of infectious disease. These consequences are not evenly distributed among people. Many are most common in impoverished and minority communities, the very young, the very old, pregnant women, and people with pre-existing heart and lung conditions.

Dr. Jonas Salk, who developed one of the first successful polio vaccines, said “Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors.”  There is time to avoid the worst, and our hope is that having a better understanding of the human health impacts of climate change and air pollution will create the collective will, the energy, and the commitment to respond to this crises with the depth, breadth, and decisiveness that it requires. There is simply no time to waste.


Oil and gas health impacts cost $77 billion per year, study finds

By Ayurella Horn-Muller 05/10/23
Air pollution from U.S. oil and natural gas production causes roughly $77 billion in health impacts nationwide every year, while also contributing to thousands of early deaths and health flare-ups, a new study finds...
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Health Impacts of Climate Change on Children in the United States: EPA Report

The signs of climate change are all around us, and children are uniquely vulnerable to its impacts. Climate change-related impacts in childhood can have lifelong consequences due to effects on learning, physical health, and housing…
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‘In every breath we take’: How climate change impacts pollen allergies

By Samantha Harrington 04/19/23
When spring arrives, as many as 81 million Americans experience seasonal allergies. And as the planet warms and more carbon dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere, climate change is lengthening pollen seasons and making them…
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Want to protect your health? Start by protecting Indigenous land.

By Lyric Aquino 04/12/23
By protecting Indigenous territories in the Amazon, more than 15 million respiratory and cardiovascular-related illnesses, like asthma and lung cancer, could be avoided each year and almost $2 billion dollars in health costs saved. That’s…
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The Willow Project Would Be a Public Health Crisis for Alaska

By Yessenia Funes 03/06/23
Siqiniq Maupin, an Iñupiaq person born in Alaska’s North Slope city of Utqiagvik but raised in Fairbanks, has known too many people whose lives were cut short by cancer or suicide. Across the state, Alaska…
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Will global warming make temperature less deadly?

By Harry Stevens 02/16/23
The scientific paper published in the June 2021 issue of the journal Nature Climate Change was alarming. Between 1991 and 2018, the peer-reviewed study reported, more than one-third of deaths from heat exposure were linked…
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Improved Asthma Symptoms, Air Pollution Linked to Electric Vehicle Use in California

By Pearl Steinzor 02/08/23
Drivers choosing zero emission vehicles (ZEVs), otherwise known as battery electric, plug-in hybrid, or hydrogen fuel cell cars, have been increasing in California, with efforts to tackle climate change. However, little is known about the…
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Valley fever could spread from Southwest, driven by climate change, researchers warn: ‘New cases emerging’

By Melissa Rudy 02/02/23
For most people who are suffering from fever, cough and fatigue, the likely culprits are cold, flu or COVID-19.
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Air quality can affect health. Climate change is worsening both.

By Jan Ellen Spiegel 01/22/23
Sandra Rapp has had breathing problems for at least 20 years. She was a heavy smoker — a habit she gave up 30 years ago — spent many years working in manufacturing and has lived…
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Study Says Climate Change Fear-Mongering Severely Impacting Children’s Mental Health

By Kevin Killough 01/15/23
Since environmental activist Greta Thunberg gave her “how dare you” speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in 2019 when she was 17, young people have been drawn into a debate about climate change.
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Older adults can be particularly vulnerable during weather disasters

By YCC Team 01/03/23
It’s an urgent issue as extreme weather grows more common. The post Older adults can be particularly vulnerable during weather disasters appeared first on Yale Climate Connections. ...
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How Does Deforestation Lead To Human Diseases?

By Andrew Wight 12/07/22
Colombian disease ecologist Juliana Hoyos is part of a multidisciplinary team studying the links between deforestation and diseases like Chagas disease and American cutaneous leishmaniasis.
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If you see no icon in front of an entry, it means the entry covers more than one subject.

The 2022 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: health at the mercy of fossil fuels

The 2022 report of the Lancet Countdown is published as the world confronts profound and concurrent systemic shocks. Countries and health systems continue to contend with the health, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19…

U.S. EPA and WHO partner to protect public health

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The agreement continues EPA-WHO collaboration on a wide range of specific and crosscutting environment and…

Environmental Health Coalition

Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) works for environmental justice in the San Diego/Tijuana region and throughout California.

EWG’s Tap Water Database

Since 2013, water utilities' testing has found pollutants in Americans' tap water, according to an EWG drinking water quality analysis of more than 31 million state water records.

The Most Detailed Map of Cancer-Causing Industrial Air Pollution in the U.S.

ProPublica’s analysis of five years of modeled EPA data identified more than 1,000 toxic hot spots across the country and found that an estimated 250,000 people living in them may be exposed to levels of…

Lancet Countdown: Policy brief for the United States Of America

This fifth annual Policy Brief is supported by a diverse group of health experts from over 70 institutions, organizations, and centers who recognize that climate change is first and foremost a health crisis. It uses…

Systematic mapping of global research on climate and health: a machine learning review

The global literature on the links between climate change and human health is large, increasing exponentially, and it is no longer feasible to collate and synthesise using traditional systematic evidence mapping approaches. We aimed to…

The number of lives that clean energy could save, by U.S. state

The United States can achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 while creating half a million new jobs, modernizing the energy infrastructure, and avoiding hundreds of thousands of needless deaths, according to the comprehensive Net Zero…

Systematic mapping of global research on climate and health: a machine learning review

The global literature on the links between climate change and human health is large, increasing exponentially, and it is no longer feasible to collate and synthesise using traditional systematic evidence mapping approaches. We aimed to…

Coming Storms: Climate Change And The Rising Threat To America’s Coastal Seniors

A new Climate Central sea-level-rise analysis identifies the assisted living and nursing homes at risk in five states. Experts say waiting to evacuate during storms is not the answer.

Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows: Section 1.  Policy.  Our Nation has an abiding commitment to empower…

WHO global strategy on health, environment and climate change

The burden of disease attributable to the environment is high and persistent, and amounts to 13 million deaths each year (one quarter of all deaths), and further health concerns are posed by global challenges such…

Global risk of deadly heat

Climate change can increase the risk of conditions that exceed human thermoregulatory capacity.

Raising Awareness of the Health Impacts of Coal Plant Pollution

In 2000, 2004 and again in 2010, the Clean Air Task Force issued studies based on a methodology and model created by Abt Associates, U.S EPA’s own health benefits consultant, based on peer-reviewed, published studies…

Investors Join Calls for a Food Revolution to Fight Climate Change

A series of new reports shows how climate change is intertwined with the world’s worsening health, and suggests changes in the global food production system.

The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change: The Lancet Commission report

Malnutrition in all its forms, including obesity, undernutrition, and other dietary risks, is the leading cause of poor health globally. In the near future, the health effects of climate change will considerably compound these health…

Global Climate Change and Children’s Health

Climate change poses threats to human health, safety, and security, and children are uniquely vulnerable to these threats.

Climate change and health

Over the last 50 years, human activities – particularly the burning of fossil fuels – have released sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to trap additional heat in the lower atmosphere and…

Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance

“Things like depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, domestic abuse, all these things tend to go up in the aftermath of a natural disasters,” says psychologist Susan Clayton of the College of Wooster,…

Planting healthy air: Trees, particulate matter pollution and extreme heat

This study from the Nature Conservancy reviews the positive cooling effects of urban trees planting on hot city climates and the quality of their air.

New Lancet report: The Global Syndemic: Uniting Actions to Address Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change

The Lancet has been busy.  Last week, it published a blockbuster report on the need for worldwide dietary changes to improve human health and that of the environment. And here is another post about this…

Weekend reading: The Lancet / EAT Forum report on healthy and sustainable diets

I’ve saved this for Weekend Reading because it will take a weekend to get through it. The report is a blockbuster: 37 authors, 47 pages, 357 references.

Major Health Study Shows Benefits of Combating Climate Change

The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, by 150 experts from 27 academic institutions and intergovernmental organizations, including the World Health Organization and the World Bank, is blunt: “A rapidly changing climate…

8 ways the climate apocalypse could affect your health

Public health journal The Lancet released a report Wednesday warning that climate change is causing a long list of health risks.

California health systems form alliance to advise on climate change laws, regulations

As deadly fires and record-breaking heat waves ravage California, four of the state's largest health systems joined to form the California Health Care Climate Alliance ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in September to…

Climate change is making people sick: A U.S. medical report

From rising levels of air pollution to increased water contamination and a widening range for disease-carrying mosquitoes, climate change is making people sick, a coalition of 11 US medical groups said Wednesday.


When health inequities and climate disasters collide

By Ayurella Horn-Miller   12/06/22  
Researchers released a toolkit Tuesday designed to help free and low-cost clinics in the U.S. to better deal with heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires and floods in underserved communities. The big picture: Despite treating those most…
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Harvard team launches climate resilience toolkit for front-line health care clinics

By Sharon Udasin   12/06/22  
A team of Harvard University public health experts has launched an initiative to help front-line medical clinics protect their patients from climate risks. The project, called the Climate Resilience for Frontline Clinics Toolkit, provides clinical…
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As heat wave grips the West, millions in California are urged to set thermostats to 78 degrees to conserve electricity today

By Aya Elamroussi   09/01/22  
An intense heat wave will blanket much of the West this week, prompting officials in California to urge residents to slash their energy consumption for the second day in a row to avoid straining the…
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Nature can affect human well-being in many more ways than you think

By Allyson Chiu   08/05/22  
Humans have long benefited from nature’s offerings. But beyond being an essential source of food, water and raw materials, the natural world can contribute to people’s overall well-being through a host of intangible effects —…
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Climate change is eroding a precious resource: sleep

By Alejandra Borunda   05/25/22  
That feeling isn’t just unpleasant. Years of research show that sleep deprivation can ramp up heart disease risk, intensify mood disorders, slow one’s ability to learn, and much more—problems with big personal, societal, and economic…
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‘A Planetary Threat’: Pollution Responsible For 9 Million Deaths Each Year, Study Finds

By Robert Hart   05/17/22  
TOPLINE Pollution was responsible for more than 9 million deaths around the world in 2019, according to a study published in Lancet Planetary Health on Tuesday, equivalent to one in every six, a growing global…
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Cutting air pollution from fossil fuels would save 50,000 lives a year, study says

By Steven Mufson   05/16/22  
Eliminating air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels would prevent more than 50,000 premature deaths and provide more than $600 billion in health benefits in the United States every year, according to a new study…
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The Tick That Causes a Meat Allergy Is on the Move

By Livia Albeck-Ripka   05/13/22  
One night in 2008, Deborah Fleshman awoke in her bed to find that her legs had turned beetroot red. Welts, some a foot wide, had appeared along her torso.
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Cancer-causing gas emission spikes continue at refineries

By Sean Reilly   05/12/22  
On its website, Marathon Petroleum Corp. touts a commitment to the environment that transcends run-of-the-mill regulatory compliance.
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Fossil Fuels Aren’t Just Harming the Planet. They’re Making Us Sick

By Liza Gross   05/12/22  
For years, researchers have warned that chemical pollutants tied to fossil fuels have become so pervasive that they would be impossible for anyone to avoid.
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When will ‘economic growth’ account for environmental costs?

By David Shearman   05/12/22  
Human health and the natural environment are indivisible. A recent article in the journal The Lancet reminds us that “economic decisions on the environment have major impacts on human health, and health and wellness depend…
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Yes, you’re consuming microplastics —

By Andrea Michelson   04/30/22  
Scientists are certain that humans around the world are ingesting tiny pieces of plastic on a regular basis. Now, they are seeking to understand how the wide distribution of microplastics affects human health and the…
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Studies find microplastics in human lungs, blood stream; scientists investigating possible health risks

Scientists from the Netherlands and the U.K. recently identified microplastics deep in the lungs of some surgical patients and in the blood of anonymous donors. Researchers say that it's possible to take in these particles…
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Studies find microplastics in human lungs, blood stream; scientists investigating possible health risks

Scientists from the Netherlands and the U.K. recently identified microplastics deep in the lungs of some surgical patients and in the blood of anonymous donors. Researchers say that it's possible to take in these particles…
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California AG subpoenas Exxon for details on role in global plastic pollution

By Valerie Volcovici   04/29/22  
California's attorney general announced on Thursday he issued a subpoena to ExxonMobil (XOM.N) for information on its role in causing the global plastic waste crisis.
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Animal melting pot created by climate change could lead to new disease outbreaks

By Jon Cohen   04/28/22  
Earth’s warming climate is expected to change the habitat of many animal species, which a new modeling study predicts may spell trouble: Species on the move will mingle with many others they have never encountered…
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Climate change will accelerate viral spillovers, study finds

By Carl Zimmer   04/28/22  
Over the next 50 years, climate change will drive thousands of viruses to jump from one species of mammal to another, according to a study published in Nature on Thursday. The shuffling of viruses among…
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Microplastics are in our bodies. How much do they harm us?

By Laura Parker   04/26/22  
A few years ago, as microplastics began turning up in the guts of fish and shellfish, the concern was focused on the safety of seafood. Shellfish were a particular worry, because in their case, unlike…
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Disease-causing parasites can hitch a ride on plastics and potentially spread through the sea, new research suggests

By Karen Shapiro and Emma Zhang   04/26/22  
Typically when people hear about plastic pollution, they might envision seabirds with bellies full of trash or sea turtles with plastic straws in their noses. However, plastic pollution poses another threat that’s invisible to the…
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The $150 Billion Road Electric School Buses Can Ride To Create American Jobs And Protect Kids’ Health

By Sarah Spengeman   04/25/22  
Anyone who has gone to school in the United States remembers the smell of diesel exhaust from riding the iconic yellow school bus, but few realize the danger of breathing those fumes. Thankfully, our children…
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Living in energy-efficient homes can improve people’s health

By YCC Team   04/21/22  
Home energy efficiency upgrades can cut carbon pollution and help people save money on utility bills But for Kevin Kennedy, director of the environmental health program at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, there’s…
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Microplastics in the human body: What we know and don’t know

By Evan Bush   04/11/22  
Few places on Earth — or in our bodies — seem to be free of microplastics. Researchers in recent months have announced the discovery of microplastics traveling in the bloodstream of a handful of anonymous…
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Plastic and its impact on our health

It's well known plastics are harmful to the environment, but this isn't the only thing plastics are impacting, according to the World Economic Forum. They can also be harmful to your health.
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There’s good reason to worry about the health risks of plastics

By Erika Veidis and Jamie Hansen   04/02/22  
An emerging domain of research shows that plastic consumption and pollution harms human health — particularly for the world’s lower-income communities.
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EV Shift Would Spur Trillions in Health Benefits, Report Says

By Jennifer Hijazi   03/30/22  
Widespread transition to zero-emission vehicles would yield more than $1 trillion in public health benefits, according to research from the American Lung Association. A nationwide switch to electric cars and other vehicles would save 110,000…
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Climate change may make the US a “Goldilocks zone” for West Nile Virus

Melissa Bailey   03/28/22  
Spring rain, summer drought, and heat created ideal conditions for mosquitoes to spread the West Nile virus through Colorado last year, experts said. West Nile killed 11 people and caused 101 cases of neuroinvasive infections…
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The next frontier in medicine: Doctors with climate training

By Emily Jones   03/24/22  
It’s the culmination of several years of student-led efforts to ensure Emory’s future doctors learn about the growing health impacts of a warming planet, because climate change doesn’t just bring hotter weather and more extreme…
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Microplastics found in human blood for first time

By Damian Carrington   03/24/22  
Microplastic pollution has been detected in human blood for the first time, with scientists finding the tiny particles in almost 80% of the people tested. The discovery shows the particles can travel around the body…
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Climate change will make spring hell for Northeast allergy sufferers, study says

By Rosemary Misdary   03/24/22  
That is what Brooklynite Amy Grech, 49, experiences with the first plant buds of spring, and she said since she was 14 years old, her allergies have worsened in severity as well as lengthened in…
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The world’s forests do more than just store carbon, new research finds

By Nina Lakhani   03/24/22  
The world’s forests play a far greater and more complex role in tackling climate crisis than previously thought, due to their physical effects on global and local temperatures, according to new research...
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Green Mediterranean diet could be a ‘win-win’ for health and the planet

By James Kingsland   03/22/22  
People who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But new research suggests that a “green” Mediterranean diet — which avoids all meat and provides extra greens —…
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Managing upstream oil and gas emissions: A public health oriented approach

By J. Lee , C. Sorensen and Others   03/21/22  
Oil and natural gas are the largest primary global energy sources, and upstream gas emissions from these fuels can impact global climate change and local public health. This paper employs a public health-oriented perspective that…
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The Unseen Toll of a Warming World

By Sarah Kerr and Noah Throop   03/09/22  
Experts and psychologists are racing to understand how the torments of a volatile, unpredictable planet shape our minds and mental health. In February, a major new study highlighted the mental health effects of climate change…
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New Data Finds Common Ground in Addressing Climate Resiliency Among Academics and Beltway Professionals

By Battelle Media Relations   03/08/22  
A recent survey commissioned by global research and development organization Battelle ahead of its forthcoming Conference on Innovations in Climate Resilience shows that more than two-thirds of academics and Beltway professionals believe the implementation of…
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Six behavior changes that can heal people and the planet

By Neha Pathak   03/04/22  
As a physician practicing in this growing field, I help my patients address common chronic conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, and lung problems, by focusing on six major changes to their lifestyles. Beyond a focus…
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Electric school buses benefit both the climate and students’ health

By April Miller   03/02/22  
Electric school buses are finally rolling out and are directly impacting the air quality children breathe each day. Recently, there have been several announcements regarding EV school buses. Some of these include studies backing their…
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Global health has improved for decades. Climate change could change that.

By Evan Bush   02/28/22  
As temperatures warm, the health risks of climate change are expected to intensify in the U.S. and worldwide. The effects of climate change have already left millions of people hungry, caused deaths during heat waves…
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As Evidence of Cap and Trade Problems Mounts, California Air Regulators Remain Defiant

By Aaron Cantu   02/24/22  
At a state Senate hearing on Wednesday, top regulators dismissed concerns about the ability of California’s cap and trade program to help the state meet its climate goals. The hearing focused on a recent report…
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Apocalypse when? Global warming’s endless scroll

By Amanda Hess   02/03/22  
From “Don’t Look Up” to Greta Thunberg videos to doomsaying memes, we are awash in warnings that we are almost out of time. But the climate crisis is outpacing our emotional capacity to describe it.
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The life-or-death implications of curbing air pollution from power plants

By Maxine Joselow   02/01/22  
The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday affirmed its authority to regulate emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from the power sector. It's easy to frame Monday's move as an abstract regulatory decision by Washington…
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Living near or downwind of unconventional oil and gas development linked with increased risk of early death

Elderly people living near or downwind of unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD)—which involves extraction methods including directional (non-vertical) drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking—are at higher risk of early death compared with elderly individuals…
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EPA acts to curb air, water pollution in poor communities

By Matthew Daly   01/27/22  
The Environmental Protection Agency announced a series of enforcement actions Wednesday to address air pollution, unsafe drinking water and other problems afflicting minority communities in three Gulf Coast states, following a “Journey to Justice” tour…
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EPA announces ‘bold’ action to monitor pollution in ‘Cancer Alley’

By Darryl Fears   01/26/22  
Two months after touring “environmental justice” communities in three southern states, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan on Wednesday announced bold steps to address complaints from residents about tainted drinking water, chemical plants near homes…
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New paper shows: ‘A win on climate is a win for health’

By Ann Grauvogl   01/20/22  
From ramping up clean electricity to eliminating food waste. From designing cities for walking and biking to preserving ecosystems. Projects that lead to a low-carbon society and limit climate change will have more and greater…
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U.S. EPA and WHO partner to protect public health

his week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The agreement continues EPA-WHO collaboration on a wide range of specific and crosscutting environment and…
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The Climate Footprint of Plastics and the Need for a Global Solution

By Justin Bernstein   01/13/22  
U.S. efforts to reclaim its climate change leadership, as demonstrated at COP26 in Glasgow, will be undermined if the country does not also step up and accelerate action on reducing plastic waste. Plastic is packing…
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How Bad Are Plastics, Really?

By Rebecca Altman   01/03/22  
This is hardly the time to talk about plastics is what I think when Dad, hovering over the waste bin at a post-funeral potluck, waves me over, his gesture discreet but emphatic. He has retrieved…
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Reducing emissions would yield dramatic health benefits by 2030

By Roberto Molar Candanosa   11/30/21  
Air quality improvements resulting from a worldwide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would benefit human health and prevent economic losses, according to new research by scientists from NASA, Duke University, and Columbia University.
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Doctors Say Climate Change Is Killing People Now, Call For Action

By Nexus Media   11/29/21  
Climate change is killing people now, public health experts say. Their report, published in the medical journal The Lancet, details the degree to which “Climate-induced shocks are claiming lives, damaging health and disrupting livelihoods in…
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COP26 finally framed climate change as a public health issue

By Maxine Joselow   11/22/21  
More than 100 doctors and nurses traveled to Glasgow earlier this month with a message for world leaders: Global warming is a leading threat to public health. And curbing planet-warming emissions is a prescription.
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