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Climate & Weather


Climate change is any major change that has been occurring for at least 10 years in the temperature, precipitation, wind, and other weather patterns that we measure. Across the planet in general, temperatures are rising, and rainfall is increasing, but these changes are not occurring everywhere. In some places, temperatures may stay the same or drop, while other places may have far less rainfall. Different types of air pollution may also increase. These changes have the potential to affect human health in several direct and indirect ways, some of them severe.

Our changing climate may affect some of the things you need to be healthy such as clean air and water, enough food, and a place to live. According to the World Health Organization , about 1.2 million people worldwide die each year due to health problems caused by breathing bad air from air pollution. About 3.5 million people worldwide die because they do not get enough food to eat, and 2.2 million people get severe diarrhea because they do not have a clean water supply and proper sanitation.

Changes in climate also can affect some infectious diseases that spread from animals to humans or by mosquitoes, ticks, and other biting insects. For example, climate change could cause diseases such as Dengue fever, Lyme disease, or West Nile Virus to re-emerge, or spread to previously unaffected areas. Also, changes in climate can increase the introduction and spread of new diseases like the Zika virus. In addition, heavy precipitation can increase the number of cases of waterborne illnesses.

While climate change is recognized as a global issue, the effects will vary from one area and one group of people to another.

​Why is it important?

Changes in temperature, precipitation, and extreme weather events like floods have the ability to negatively affect the health of people throughout Kentucky and the world. 

What is known?

Kentucky's geographic diversity means that some Kentucky communities will be affected more severely by climate and weather than others. Extensive study of climate indicators is necessary for us to know which people and areas in Kentucky will be the most likely to experience adverse health outcomes due to climate change.

Who is at risk?

Climate change affects everyone, b ut some people are more likely than others to suffer negative health outcomes from climate-related exposures. For example, agricultural workers are at greater risk to suffer the health effects of heat waves because they are more likely to be exposed to extreme temperatures. Other people, such as children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing medical conditions are more sensitive to the effects of factors like severe cold or poor air quality. And some people, such as communities in isolated and medically underserved areas, are less able to adapt to the potential impacts of extreme weather events and the changing climate because of their limited resources.​

How to reduce your risk?

​Reducing the risk of adverse health outcomes lies mostly in preparing for climate change. This includes
  • Tracking weather patterns and disasters to look for trends,
  • Preparing in advance for severe weather hazards with an action play for sheltering,
  • Staying alert of weather conditions in advance of severe weather,
  • Increasing education and awareness about climate issues,
  • Ensuring food security,
  • Protecting water supplies, sources, and infrastructure,
  • Strengthening disaster response capability, and
  • Protecting the environment, such as local forests and wetlands

FAQs and Resources​