• Climate in the Gulf
• The Report
• For Teachers
• Slow the Change
• Speed our Response
• Water Resources
• Sea-Level Change
• Human Perspectives
Health concerns related to climate change result from a complex set of interacting human and environmental factors. These concerns are particularly serious for the elderly and other vulnerable populations (the very young, the poor, and those whose health is already compromised). Air and water quality, seafood safety, and storm-related risks are of great concern for all residents and visitors of Alabama. Specific health concerns related to climate change include:
- More heat-related illnesses and deaths. The greatest increase in the July heat index is projected for the southern United States. The cities of Alabama—especially Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, and other large urban areas—are particularly susceptible to more heat waves. As a result, Alabama is likely to see an increase in the number of heat-related illnesses and deaths, especially among vulnerable populations.
- Decreased air quality. Higher temperatures also lead to increased production of ground-level ozone and smog, exacerbating asthma and other respiratory diseases and making it even harder for urban areas like Birmingham and surrounding counties, which are currently in noncompliance with federal air quality standards, to achieve acceptable air quality.
- Increased risk of disease. The risk of water-borne illnesses—such as gastrointestinal or respiratory diseases and skin, ear, or eye infections—can increase with warmer temperatures and extreme rainfall and runoff. Microorganisms associated with diseases in coastal waters, such as toxic algae, red-tide dinoflagellates, Vibrio vulnificus (a pathogen contaminating shellfish), and others, can damage habitat and shellfish nurseries and be toxic to both marine species and humans.
- Greater demands on health resources. Incidences of disease, illness, or death are determined only in combination with human factors, such as the effectiveness of water and sewage treatment and the responsiveness of the public health system. Thus, climate-related health risks will place greater demands on public health resources.
Alabama Canebrake pitcher plant - Threatened & Endangered Species of Alabama. R. Johnson & B. Wehrle; www.pfmt.org.
Couple working in garden - USDA Photo.
• Apalachicola Bay
• Big Thicket
• Laguna Madre
• Mississippi Delta