Many people still think of climate change as a purely environmental issue. Yet the implications of climate change extend well beyond the environment, threatening the health of people, communities, agriculture, and economies everywhere. The same activities that cause climate change are having direct impacts on health, including respiratory, cardiovascular, neurodevelopmental, and other health problems.
Compounding this harm are the health impacts of climate change itself. Climate change produces changes in weather and increases in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, which in turn can cause injury and increase the spread of infectious disease. Climate change already is worsening air quality and increasing the incidence and severity of respiratory diseases such as asthma. Climate change is impacting many natural and human systems that are critical for supporting human health, such as agriculture, infrastructure, and the economy.
While climate change presents serious challenges for health, it also represents a historic opportunity for philanthropy to make a positive, even transformational, difference in what people experience in the years and decades to come. Taking action now could improve health and reduce harm in the near term, diminish the severity of future threats, and realize major health and community benefits.