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There is unambiguous scientific evidence that climate change is occurring and widespread scientific consensus that climate change is anthropogenic. In recent years, global climate change has resulted in increased frequency and intensity of adverse weather events including heat waves, droughts, wildfires, extreme weather events, and flooding. These events have affected all regions of the United States, resulting in economic costs in the billions of dollars and extensive health impacts that are projected to increase if environmental changes continue to occur with under-mitigated carbon release.

Climate change results from a process whereby increased production of carbon dioxide (CO2), and other greenhouse gases (GHGs), leads to increased retention of heat energy in the planet’s atmosphere and oceans. Trapped heat as well as increasing CO2 result in a series of environmental changes including increased ambient temperatures, heavier and more variable precipitation, warmer oceans, increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather, melting of land-based snow and ice, ocean acidification, and a rise in sea level. These environmental changes drive exposure pathways (eg, extreme heat) (Table 49–1) that in turn have significant impacts on worker’s physical, mental, and community health (Figure 49–1).

Figure 49–1.

Medical and physical health, mental health, and community consequences of climate change.

Table 49–1.Impacts of climate change on worker health.

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