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Kim Knowlton’s Blog

Irene Approaches, But Climate Change Got Here First

Kim Knowlton

Posted August 25, 2011 in Health and the Environment, Solving Global Warming

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NRDC’s “Climate Change Threatens Health” webpages map five major climate-health vulnerabilities across the US. One of these is Flooding, which much of the East Coast is now bracing for because of the approach of Hurricane Irene.

It’s time for everyone in eastern communities to prepare, check on friends and neighbors, know your local warning systems, and stay informed. People in New York City can check on preparedness steps here

Unfortunately, many of the harmful effects of hurricanes can be compounded by climate change.

Climate change has been linked to hurricanes and storms with more destructive potential in the Atlantic. As climate change continues, storms with faster wind speeds and more rain are likely. Intense rains and coastal storm surges can cause extensive flooding and an associated range of health impacts and risks, including:

  • death and injury
  • contaminated drinking water
  • hazardous material spills
  • increased populations of disease-carrying insects and rodents
  • moldy houses
  • community disruption and displacement

Sea level has risen as much as 2 feet over the last century in some parts of the US, worsening the destructive effects of storm surges and flooding for coastal cities and ecosystems. This highlights the dramatic need for coastal climate change preparedness.

Even when it’s not hurricane season, as the global climate continues to warm, it boosts the energy of the water cycle, triggering more intense rain and snow and also intensifying drought.

Climate change is caused by increased levels of carbon pollution. Our webpages help illustrate the dangers of congressional efforts to dismantle the Clean Air Act; which now aims to limit carbon pollution and maintain public health protections.

We can take steps to limit the rising tide of climate-health vulnerabilities in our own backyards.

Take precautions and take care this weekend.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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