May 25, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Study Links Climate Change To Public Health Decline

Aug 18, 2015 07:48 PM EDT

Researchers at the University of Washington and the Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) have published a new study that shows the public health implications of climate change. Their research explores climate change impacts on human health in coastal regions, especially in the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The findings of their study are a warning signal for the implications of climate change on coastal regions particularly vulnerable. The study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The research team has reviewed the previously available data and came to the conclusion that climate change can have devastating effects on public health over the next years. The study comes to be published right after President Obama's announcement of the requirement for reduced carbon emissions as part of the Clean Power Plan. It seems that the Obama administration has already fully acknowledged the health impacts of the fossil fuel energy production and the stringent need to adapt the nation's energy policies.

According to the new study, climate change presents substantial threats to physical and mental health. It may create social instability, violence, increased conflict, and widespread migration away from areas no longer providing sufficient water, food, and shelter for the current populations. A large proportion of U.S. citizens lives on coastal areas that are particularly vulnerable to impacts of climate change. Shoreline erosion, changing water use patterns, storm surge, and sea level rise are among the factors that lead to particular vulnerability of coastal regions, according to the authors of the new study.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Earth Institute, declared that the threat to population health is irrefutable and, unfortunately, this threat is evolving quickly. Dr. Redlener is also a professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health.

The professor added that we came now at a point where slowing climate change is no longer enough. Instead, we need to develop simultaneously new ways of mitigating the impact. Unfortunately, we will also need "adapting to the consequences of this environmental disaster", according to the scientist.

Public health impacts in the U.S. Gulf Coast may be extremely severe. Experts are warning that the region is expected to experience sea level rise, increases in extreme temperatures, and possibly more intense hurricanes. According to Dr. Elisa Petkova from the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, climate change might also amplify existing public health impacts, such as malnutrition resulting from drought, heat-related morbidity and mortality, injury and deaths following exposure to floods.

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