By: Savannah Scarborough, Follow South Jersey Intern
SOUTH JERSEY – The Murphy Administration announced that New Jersey had composed a comprehensive report on the impacts of climate change on human health and communities by adding a human health supplement to its New Jersey Scientific Report on Climate Change on September 20th. This addendum highlights the public health concerns brought on by climate change and wishes to help proactively direct the State’s strategy to plan to prepare for climate change impacts.
The State’s Human Health and Communities Addendum states that climate change will, directly and indirectly, influence human health and stresses that climate change will worsen air quality from natural and human-made sources.
Since 1938, scientists have connected carbon dioxide increases within Earth’s atmosphere to global warming (Global Climate Change). However, 1988 marked the date climate change became a national issue (The Conversation).
“Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause-and-effect relationship between greenhouse effect and observed warming…In my opinion, the greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now,” said Dr. James Hansen, the director of NASA’s Institute for Space Studies.
A few of the most problematic impacts of global warming include; exacerbating respiratory conditions and cardiovascular disease, heart-related stress, increased risk of diseases borne by mosquitoes and ticks, scarce clean drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter, and increasing mental health stressors. According to the World Health Organization, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress.
“Air-borne allergens, such as pollen and molds, are likely to cause greater allergy and asthma symptoms, and infectious diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes, as well as microorganism contamination of food and water supplies are expected to occur more frequently,” said Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health Judith Persichilli. “It is important to arm ourselves with a solid scientific foundation to take steps that are important to protecting our health and mental well being.”
Warmer winters, longer heat waves, heavier rains, flooding along inland streams and rivers, and more tidal flooding along the coast all indicate predicted danger to New Jersey public health and safety. Furthermore, these impacts can destroy property, undermine critical infrastructure, and harm New Jersey’s economy, including the thriving tourism industry.
Specific communities may also be more vulnerable regarding adequate infrastructure, health, income, food insecurity, and resources to prepare for and recover from natural disasters. The vulnerability of these communities is worrisome, for it may increase the already high frequency of chronic illnesses in impoverished areas. Population displacement may also result from sea-level rise and flooding events which may lead to cumulative detrimental effects of climate change on mental health.
“In addition to inhibiting economic growth and inflicting property damage, climate change will also result in severe, wide-ranging, and long-lasting effects on the physical and mental health of our residents, especially in already vulnerable communities,” said Governor Murphy. “While we develop a fuller understanding of these significant repercussions, we must ensure that all New Jerseyans are aware of these potential impacts and are equipped with the tools and resources necessary to face them.”
The Murphy Administration wishes to make it clear that there are many actions the public can take to become better informed and prepared for the climate change crisis. The administration recommends the public: Get air quality alerts, learn how schools and summer/sports camps can participate in New Jersey’s Air Quality Flag Program, learn to spot signs and symptoms of threatening diseases and how to recognize and prevent heat-related symptoms, and visit your municipal or county website for an updated list of cooling centers near you, learn how to increase your resilience to flooding, encourage your town to participate in the NFIP’s Community Rating System, and understand the potential future impacts of climate change as a whole.
For links to learn more about where to learn about climate change and help New Jersey address this climate crisis, visit:
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