ASSOCIATED PRESS / 1997
A Greenpeace hot-air balloon with the message "Save the Climate" flies over the G8 Summit in Denver.
Seniors fare worst in altered climate
WASHINGTON » Global warming will affect the health and welfare of every American, but the poor, elderly and children will suffer the most, according to a new White House report released yesterday.
The 284-page report, mostly written by the Environmental Protection Agency, said every region of the country would be hit by worse health from heat waves and drought. It said all but a handful of states would have worse air quality and flooding. It predicts an increase in diseases spread by tainted food, bad water and bugs.
The report "concludes that climate change poses real risk to human health and human system that supports our way of life in the United States," EPA's climate change research program director, Joel Scheraga, said at a news conference.
Global warming is caused by greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels. At current emission levels, global temperatures are likely to rise by about 2 degrees by midcentury and about 7.5 degrees by the end of the century, according to an international panel of scientists.
Most of the ill effects of global warming have been mentioned in past reports, but this one details how climate change will "accentuate the disparities already evident in the American health care system."
The most vulnerable Americans -- the poor, elderly, sick, very young and immigrants -- will suffer more, said Kristie Ebi, lead author of the health sections of the report and a private public health consultant. That is at least 10 percent of the country's population, probably more, she said.
It will be tougher for these people to get adequate health care for climate-related illnesses, cool down in heat waves, escape extreme events such as Hurricane Katrina and even get enough food, the report said.