Climate Change and Health in Colorado

credit: The Colorado Health Institute

In the coming weeks, I will be examining climate change in the state of Colorado, my home state. (I live in the top right-hand corner of Boulder County.) In this first post, I focus on climate change and health, drawing on a new report published April 22, 2019 by The Colorado Health Institute. (The report uses data from 2017.)

In terms of health, Southeastern Colorado is the most vulnerable to climate change. This includes the following counties: Kiowa, Crowley, Otero, Bent, Prowers, Huerfano, Las Animas, Baca. The total population of these counties is 68,000.

The report states that Southeastern Colorado is the most vulnerable because:

“This region had the state’s highest rates of emergency department visits due to heat-related illnesses, as well as 60 extreme heat days in 2017.”

“Area residents had high rates of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Residents also were more likely to lack a high school diploma, live in poverty, and be uninsured.”

“The region lacks climate-related action and adaptation plans. The southeast had no public health, county-level, or city- level plans that are addressing climate change.”

Interview: Dr. Gina McCarthy

“I want to connect climate and health directly. I want people to know that climate change is a threat to them today. . . A variety of communicable diseases are changing their patterns, in terms of the communities that are exposed, the vectors, and the contaminants related to contagious and infectious diseases.” Read more . . .

Gina McCarthy is Professor of the Practice of Public Health in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment. In this capacity, she leads the development of the School’s strategy in climate science, health, and sustainability; strengthens the climate science and health curriculum; and liaises with climate science leaders across the University.