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Changing Climate in Hawaii Affects Human Health

January 26, 2014
human health

Original artwork by R. Mason

Temperatures are predicted to rise an average of 4°F in the Pacific islands by 2090. While Hawaii climate is moderated by the Pacific Ocean and the heat waves that hit continental locations are not common, the higher temperatures we will experience disproportionately affect the health of our most vulnerable residents, while making it more uncomfortable for all of us. But it is not the heat itself that poses the greatest risk to human health. As the temperature warms and the Hawaiian Islands become drier, water shortages could increase, for example.

The increased frequency of large storms projected with climate change not only directly affects humans through damaging winds and storm surges, but they also create environmental conditions that favor mosquitoes and vermin. Standing water left by large storms can cause mosquito outbreaks that can transmit diseases. For example, in the 1990’s, wet and warm conditions contributed to 13 dengue fever deaths in Fiji.

This Week’s  MYTH  Buster: “Temperatures in Hawaii are the same as ever”

If you live near the coast this may seem true. The temperature increase at the coast is slight, and actually below the global average. However, temperatures in Hawaii’s mountains are increasing at a rate of about 0.5°F per decade. This rate is well above the global average.

 I Will Make a Difference: by challenging others to think about reducing their carbon consumption.

More in climate change and the National Park Service

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