Flooding, drought, and environmental degradation associated with climate change may lead to population displacement and more environmental refugees.
Sea-level rise is likely to affect low-lying coastal populations, especially in countries where economic means do not allow construction of sea defenses and other counter-measures. Human populations have tended to concentrate in major cities over the past 150 years, and many of the largest population centers are located on low-lying oceanfront terrain, often with an associated major river delta.
As with heat changes and extremes, there are expected to be both direct and indirect health effects of extreme weather events. Direct health impacts include injury and mortality associated with these events. There are potentially many more indirect effects, such as increases in vector-borne diseases associated with flood waters, the spread of infectious diseases in sewage runoff and poor drinking water in the aftermath of these events, and increases in mental illnesses due to community displacement, loss of property or lives, or anxiety. In late August 2005, hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas and
While some inferences have been drawn from existing models, more studies are needed for a better understanding of the health impacts related to global warming and climate change. Very little is known about its long-term consequences on health.
crossed the Gulf of Mexico, where it strengthened before reaching landfall along the Gulf Coast, including the New Orleans metropolitan area. Because New Orleans had been built in low-lying areas (in some cases below sea level) at the Mississippi delta, it was particularly vulnerable to the breaching of its protective levees. Nearly all of the city levees broke in at least one place, flooding large parts of the city and completely disrupting the community support system. It is estimated that over 1,800 people died, and over one million were displaced by the storm. Two years later, it was estimated that approximately one-third of the population had not returned to the area and both public and private services to remaining citizens had not returned to pre-hurricane levels.
Regarding drought, changing water patterns may put severe strain on human populations that do not have access to resources for diversion of rivers or development of major reservoirs. In areas that do have resources, the environmental impact of drought may be significantly exacerbated by human activity.
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