Climate change is already affecting Americans' health, aggravating asthma and allergies and killing more people through extreme heat and floods, according to a White House report released Friday.
"We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that's not irrevocably polluted or damaged," the report said, adding that in addition to kids, the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, and the poor are also particularly vulnerable to climate change's adverse health affects.
In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent nationwide - from more rain and longer, hotter heat waves, to more severe droughts and wildfires.
In the seven-page report, the administration outlines six major health issues that Americans could face because of rising global temperatures and its related effects.
As ozone levels increase, those with asthma - especially children - could face more trips to the emergency room due to exacerbated symptoms.
Wildfires are getting bigger and badder - mostly in the West and Southwest - which will in turn expose Americans to harmful smoke, adding to the risk of heart- and lung-related hospitalizations.
Thirdly, infectious diseases are expected to become more prevalent throughout the nation. Cases of Lyme disease, dengue fever, West Nile virus and Rocky Mountain spotted fever will spread throughout different regions as warmer temperatures make more comfortable living situations for the ticks and mosquitoes that spread such diseases.
US citizens can already see pollen flourishing more than usual, which will likely boost pollen-related allergies and asthma episodes, resulting in "diminished productivity and lost school days," the White House said.
Flash floods and heavy rains not only create safety risks due to subsequent flooding, but also increase the incidence of water-born diseases.
And with temperatures on the rise, heat waves amplify the risk of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses - a problem already seen in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Chicago and Cincinnati, for example, according to the White House.
Climate change is clearly not only a threat to our environment and plant and animal species, but also a threat to our own health and well-being. This report follows the Obama administration's recent announcement of its plan to cut carbon emissions from US power plants, as well as its release of the National Climate Assessment, which outlines the impact of global climate change across the country.
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