Climate Change
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Climate Change, the Environment, and Health

Air quality

Climate change and air pollution are closely linked. Air pollution we generate in our daily lives contributes to climate change. The resulting increases in temperature will, in turn, worsen pollution. Air pollution contributes to a number of illnesses, including asthma, heart disease, and stroke. Low-income communities and communities of color in California are especially vulnerable to air pollution.

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Wildfires

High temperatures, strong winds, and dry vegetation - all favorable conditions for wildfires - will increase with climate change. As California's climate changes, wildfires are becoming more frequent and severe. Health impacts include death and injury from burns or smoke inhalation, as well as the traumatic stress of experiencing such a disaster.

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Extreme heat

Extreme heat events will become more common in the coming years. By 2100, average daily temperatures are expected to rise 5.6-8.8 F. Effects from extreme heat can range from mild heat cramps to dehydration to death. Certain populations, such as elderly people living alone, face much greater health risks during heat waves.

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Vector-borne diseases

Vector-borne diseases (VBD) are infectious diseases that are transmitted to humans by animals, also called "vectors", such as mosquitoes, ticks, and rodents. Climate change can cause vectors or the diseases they carry to spread more rapidly and to new areas, putting people at risk.

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Floods, droughts, and extreme weather

As the climate changes, extreme weather events will occur more frequently, including both droughts and floods. These extreme weather events will impact health in many ways. For example, changes in precipitation will alter our food chain, drinking water supplies, and wildfire patterns. Floods can devastate communities and result in drownings, infections, displacement from one's home, and long-lasting mental health effects.

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Sea level rise

Sea levels will rise in the coming decades as a result of melting of mountain glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets. Rising sea levels will encroach on land that is home to families, businesses, and communities. A 5-foot increase in sea level would put an estimated half-million Californians at risk of losing their homes to flooding. The most damaging events, however, will occur when storm surges combine with rising seas to inundate coastal areas.

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