The deaths caused by unnatural disasters like warming-fueled hurricanes and wildfires are obvious, and the threat of extreme heat waves — which can kill outright or cause heat-related illnesses — to public health is clear.
But there are many other climate impacts that are every bit as sinister, and potentially lethal. Changing weather patterns are already altering the transmission patterns of infectious diseases, resulting in unexpected outbreaks of malaria, dengue fever, cholera, tick-born encephalitis, and West Nile virus.
Allergy season is getting longer and allergen levels higher. Lyme disease is spreading, with the number of cases in the United States tripling over the past two decades as deer ticks can carry the disease farther north and as warmer temperatures allow them to.
Floods, which are increasing in regularity and severity, create even more breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects.