Center for Disease Control and Prevention

“Changes occurring in the world’s climate pose significant threats to human health and wellbeing and will have even greater impacts in the future.”

Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization

“The broad environmental effects of climate change have long been discussed as long-term risks; what’s clear now is that the health effects are worse than anticipated—and that they’re already being felt.”

Jonathan Patz, Director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin

“It’s so important that people recognize that climate change is about our health. There are so many pathways through which climate impacts our health.”

Public Health & Climate Change

Altered disease patterns, rampant environmental changes, and the growing intensity of natural disasters are among the few public health consequences of a changing climate. Vector-borne diseases like West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease are encroaching upon regions of the country beyond the diseases’ endemic borders.

Intense natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey are increasingly battering the coasts, and wildfires along the Pacific Coast each present clear and present risks of climate impacts. Public health officials, such as the Center for Disease Control, are devising mitigation measures, studying the disease patterns, and ensuring the affected communities receive as much help as possible.

A study conducted by authors representing the University of California. San Francisco and the National Resource Defense Council found that just 10 climate-sensitive case events during 2012 had a social cost of $10 billion — with $1.6 billion stemming from lost wages.

Source: GeoHealth

Fast Facts

thousand deaths per year will be attributable to climate impacts between 2030 to 2050, according to WHO


reduction in health costs from a lower emissions scenario by the end of the century

times the number of 90+°F days in NYC by 2050 under a high emission scenario

Heard Around the Country

COVID-19 is awful. Climate change could be worse.

COVID-19 is awful. Climate change could be worse.

A global crisis has shocked the world. It is causing a tragic number of deaths, making people afraid to leave home, and leading to economic hardship not seen in many generations. Its effects are rippling across the world. Obviously, I am talking about COVID-19. But in just a few decades, the same description will fit another global crisis: climate change…

How are climate & weather different?

Climate means the long term behavior of weather. Weather is local and short-term; climate describes the average weather for a region at a given time of year based on historical patterns. Climate change means the average temperature and precipitation is not following those old patterns.

Where is there scientific agreement?

The world’s leading scientific organizations, including MIT and NASA, agree that human-caused climate change is happening and just a few more degrees of warming will increase the risk of intense storms, sea level rise and other extreme weather events.

How much warming has happened?

People have caused about 1.5ºF of unnatural warming by putting greenhouse gases into the air since 1889. While it may not sound like much, the extra warming has been linked to some natural disasters such as wildfires in the U.S. and drought in the Mediterranean.

In a Flash

  • Warmer weather exacerbates the risks of strokes, heart attacks, asthma attacks, and vector-borne diseases such as Zika, West Nile virus and Lyme disease
  • The changing climate also heightens the intensity and frequency of weather-related disasters
  • Climate change increases the public’s exposure to harmful pollutants

Sources and Citations

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Climate Change and Health: From Science to Practice.
  2. Foreign Affairs. Climate Change is Already Killing Us: How Our Planet is Getting Sicker and Deadlier by the Day.
  3. Harvard International Review. Climate Change as a Public Health Crisis.
  4. American Public Health Association. Preparing for Health Effects of Climate
  5. World Health Organization. Climate Change and
  6. National Climate Assessment. Human


  1. Banner image. U.S. Department of State.
  2. Fast fact image. U.S. AID.
  3. GeoHealth. Estimating the Health‐Related Costs of 10 Climate‐Sensitive U.S. Events During 2012. September 2019.
  4. WebsEdgeSociety. George Luber, Chief, Climate and Health Program, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Special thanks to Asmita Talukdar for her contributions to this page.