WASHINGTON-The staggering costs, often overlooked for our health from air pollution produced by fossil fuels and climate change exceed $ 820 billion in health costs every year-a burden that falls mostly on vulnerable communities but is shared in part by everyone in the United States, a new report shows.

“Science is clear: the dangerous effects of climate change – and their huge costs to our health and our pocketbooks – will get worse every year, we fail to curb the pollution that is destabilizing our planet,” said Dr. Vijay Limaye, collaboration report. author and climate and health scientist at the NRDC (Natural Resources Protection Council.) “We are faced with a choice: to continue on this road without inaction and high health care bills. Or make wise investments now in cost-effective solutions that will prevent millions of people in our country — especially the most vulnerable — from suffering injuries, illness, and premature death. The time to act is now. ”

Reports, “Costs of Inaction: The Economic Burden of Fossil Fuels and Climate Change in Health in the United States,” synthesizes several dozen scientific research papers and is among the first to record a large number of financial in public health from extreme weather driven by climate change, dangerous hot waves, increased air pollution and increased vector-borne diseases .

These impacts are projected to escalate, with the potential to cause significant increases in public health damage in the US. Correspondingly, taking bold action to reduce fossil fuel use and climate pollution could bring hundreds of billions of dollars in avoided health damage, the report shows.

The report was produced by the Consortium of the Medical Society for Climate and Health, Wisconsin Health Professionals for Climate Action and the NRDC, and will be presented to health professionals on May 22 at the annual meeting of the Consortium of the Medical Society.

While critics often argue that curbing climate change would be too costly, the report finds that the cost of inaction means we are paying much more than $ 820 billion in health costs –every year– from air pollution from fossil fuels and the impacts of climate change. These impacts are related to the heavy loads of premature deaths, hospitalizations, serious injuries, mental health illnesses, lost wages, lost working days, and other health problems.

The report reveals that all Americans are affected by these climate health costs, even those whose health is not directly harmed because government taxpayers’ Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs pay the bulk of the costs. of the disease. Millions of people in particularly vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, often at least unable to afford the extra costs, are bearing most of the cost burden of treating illness and injury, which widens the existing inequality in our country.

“The benefits of climate action are tremendous: climate solutions can save lives and save money while also reducing the risk of future climate change-related damage,” said report co-author Donald De Alwis, research analyst at the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health. “Small or large actions by individuals, health professionals and policymakers can lead us to a greener, healthier and more prosperous future. The health of present and future generations will benefit, the economic rewards are significant, and the costs of landing on our hands are great and rising. ”

Estimating the national health cost of fossil fuel-induced climate change is challenging due to the limited availability of injury and disease data coming from specific weather extremes, and current cost estimates are conservative as a result. U.S. government estimates of annual costs of climate and weather disasters exclude health-related costs and focus on property, crop, and infrastructure losses.

Despite this gap, peer-reviewed literature shows that people in the US face more than $ 820 billion in health damage each year from fossil fuel burning and climate-related events. The report details the main threats and costs:

Air pollution

  • Soil air pollution: Combustion of fossil fuels releases microscopic contamination of soot particles into the air. Breathing in that air pollution causes cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease and was estimated to cause about 107,000 premature deaths a year. Total Annual Health Costs ($ 2020): $ 820 billion.
  • Smog pollution with ozone. Emissions from burning fossil fuels and higher temperatures driven by climate change increase ozone pollution (smog). This worsens asthma and can worsen cardiovascular, metabolic, nervous system and reproductive outcomes. Total annual health costs: $ 7.9 billion.
  • Allergic pollen: Rising temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations increase the intensity and spread of the pollen season. Allergic oak pollen was estimated to have caused 21,200 asthma visits in the northeast, southeast and midwest in 2010. Total annual health costs: $ 11.4 million.

Vector infectious diseases

  • Warm climate-induced temperatures increase the range of ticks and mosquitoes that carry Lyme disease and West Nile virus, leading to premature death, hundreds of thousands of new cases a year, and tens of thousands of visits to medical clinics and hospitals. Total annual health costs: $ 860 million-$ 2.7 billion.

Extreme weather and climate events

  • Heat: Climate change causes higher temperatures and stronger heat waves, causing heat stress, heat stroke and exacerbation of a range of cardiovascular diseases, causing death and causing more hospital visits and emergencies. Total annual health costs: $ 263 million.
  • Wild smoke: Rising temperatures, drought conditions and insect outbreaks associated with climate change are projected to increase the frequency and intensity of large fires. Exposure to fire smoke caused 6,200 visits to respiratory hospitals and 1,700 PM2.5 related deaths in the past year. Total annual health costs: $ 16 billion.
  • Hurricane Sandy: The 2012 hurricane caused 273 premature deaths and more than 12,000 hospitalizations, emergency visits and outpatient appointments. Total health costs: $ 3.3 billion.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations that health professionals and policymakers can implement to curb the costs of escaped climate health.

Health professionals: As trusted publishers of health issues, health professionals can work to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the health sector, increase climate adaptation and resilience in the health sector, and incorporate climate change into health care and health practices. public.

Policymakers: Policymakers can invest in clean, low-carbon energy, transportation and food systems; support equal access to wind and solar energy; ensure a fair passage and access to zero-emission transport improvements, such as sidewalks, bicycle lanes and zero-emission public transport; and invest in climate change preparedness and resilience.

“The findings of this report create significant new opportunities by showing the large sums of money we can save as a nation by greatly accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy,” said the report’s senior adviser Dr. Edward Maibach, director of the George Mason University Center for Communication on Climate Change. “As an added bonus, almost everyone in America will enjoy cleaner air and water and better health.”

The report is here: https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/costs-inaction-burden-health-report.pdf

A blog by NRDC Vijay Limaye in the reportfindings of is here: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/vijay-limaye/new-report-climate-harms-health-are-w perhapur-costly

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The NRDC (Natural Resources Protection Council) is an international non-profit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health and the environment. The NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.