Effects of Climate Change in the United States

By Cynthia Kirk

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

Government researchers in the United States say climate change could have serious health effects for Americans. They say hot weather may cause more health problems, such as heat stroke. It also may increase flooding and air pollution.

A team of scientists from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland examined connections between climate, weather conditions and human health risks. The Global Change Research Program of the Environmental Protection Agency organized the research. It is the first time that public health experts have examined the possible health effects of worldwide climate change in the United States.

In recent years, the cities of Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Cincinnati, Ohio have had long periods of extreme heat. Hundreds of people became sick and died. Experts say many American cities are not prepared for severe heat. They say this problem will probably increase in the future.

Extreme weather events such as severe storms cause hundreds of deaths and injuries in the United States each year. Researchers say climate change could increase these events. They say rising temperatures will increase rainfall, cause sea levels to rise and increase floods and other severe weather events.

Experts say water and food supplies could become unsafe by increases in rainfall and flooding. Weather influences the transport of bacteria.

Hotter weather is also expected to increase air pollution. As air heats up, it mixes with sunlight to produce ozone smog. This pollution slows the growth of plants and trees. It can also damage human lungs.

Scientists say Americans will also be at greater risk of diseases such as dengue, yellow fever and malaria. These diseases are usually found in very warm climates. They are passed to humans by insects. They were once common in the United States. Scientists say Americans could be at risk again if disease-carrying insects move to other warm and wet climates. Scientists also say international travel can transport diseases to other countries.

The study calls for better efforts to protect the public health against the effects of air pollution, extreme heat, floods and other severe weather events.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk.

Voice of America Special English