Climate Change Worsens Our Health in Virginia and Nationwide

Dear  Editor :

This summer we’ve witnessed severe storms, heavy rainfall, and local flooding in the greater Roanoke area.  Sadly, as extreme weather events like these continue to take place throughout the seasons and across our state, our safety and well-being will continue to be threatened.   We face the risk of more heat waves and interior flooding that can impact our water quality, increase allergens, and cause an uptick in heat-related illnesses for our community.

The science is clear – climate change is happening now and carbon emissions from human activities are a significant contributor. Climate change threatens our health and well-being in many ways, including impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfire, poor air quality, threats to mental health, as well as illnesses transmitted by food, water and disease from carriers such as mosquitoes and ticks.

Children, pregnant women, the elderly, the sick, the poor, and some communities of color face the greatest health burden. Children are at risk of worsened asthma and other respiratory symptoms due to increased air pollution and the elderly are more susceptible to injury and cardiovascular and respiratory risks due to severe weather, extreme heat events, and increased air pollution. Unless we act now to address climate change, the harsh impacts to our health will only worsen.

Despite the health threats we already face, future increase in harm can be avoided by taking strong actions to impede climate change.   Just the other day, the President endorsed the EPA’s Clean Power Plan that would not only reduce carbon pollution by 30 percent from the U.S. power sector by 2030, but also reduce other harmful pollutants that cause respiratory and cardiovascular disease.   In just its first year, the Clean Power Plan will help to avoid up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks.

The sooner we take action to reduce heat-trapping carbon pollution that is contributing to climate change, the sooner we can improve our nation’s health now and for future generations.  It is vital that our Congressmen begin to prioritize the health of our citizenry and support efforts like the Clean Power Plan to address climate change today.

Leon Vinci