More than 2 out of 3 Wisconsinites are aware that global warming is happening. However, they often see climate change as a faraway threat, in both time and place, and as something that does not influence human health directly. The reality, instead, is different: climate change is already affecting Wisconsin communities, and it’s harming our health. Medical Alert! Climate Change is Harming Our Health in Wisconsin illustrates to the public, policy makers, and public health professionals that climate change is a health emergency and identifies solutions by highlighting key health challenges and opportunities across our state.
The report first summarizes ways in which climate change is already and will continue to affect Wisconsin communities. For instance, in southern and western Wisconsin, annual precipitation is now seven inches more than the 1950-2006 average, affecting groundwater quality, increasing mosquito-borne disease and triggering asthma. On the other hand, climate solutions present an opportunity to improve wellbeing, decrease lives lost, and benefit our economy. Transiting to clean energy alone could help prevent 1,910 premature deaths, 650 respiratory emergency room visits, 148,000 days of work lost, and 650 heart attacks each year in Wisconsin. Additionally, improvements to air and water quality would translate to $21 billion in health savings, and clean energy would produce an estimated 162,000 job and would grow Wisconsin’s GDP by 5%.