As part of an effort to educate New Jersey about the serious effects of climate change, the Murphy Administration is working to raise awareness of potential future health outcomes for residents statewide.
The addendum, released to mark the start of Climate Week, seeks to inform and prepare “people, businesses and government entities” for “the direct, indirect and wide-ranging influence that global warming could have on their health,” according to Murphy.
“In addition to inhibiting economic growth and inflicting property damage, climate change will also result in severe, wide-ranging and long-lasting effects on the physical and mental health of our residents, especially in vulnerable communities,” the governor said.
According to the administration, New Jersey is among the first states in the country to produce “a comprehensive report” that includes “an important human health context” when it comes to climate change.
Making NJ ‘More Climate Resilient’
Along with shedding light on the public health concerns, the new supplement will help inform the state’s strategy “to proactively plan and prepare for the climate change impacts,” the governor’s office said.
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said, “Climbing temperatures, more frequent intense rainfall and rising sea levels are all well-known consequences of climate change that are impacting New Jersey today and will worsen in the years ahead.”
“Just as climate change is impacting our landscape and economy, so too can it have adverse effects on public health,” he stated. “Our work to explain and raise awareness of these risks is yet another step the Murphy Administration is taking toward a more informed and climate-resilient New Jersey.”
Going forward, it is crucial “to arm ourselves with a solid scientific foundation to take steps that are important to protecting our health and mental well-being,” New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.
Key findings in the addendum include:
- The extreme weather events predicted for New Jersey, including heat waves and heavy precipitation, can lead to both immediate and long-term effects on cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal and mental health.
- Worse air quality from both natural and human-made sources, which may lead to greater instances of cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses and cancers in vulnerable populations.
- Infectious diseases spread by arthropods (such as ticks), insects and microbial contamination of food and water supplies are expected to become more prevalent as climate change exacerbates the environmental conditions that are more favorable for pathogens and their hosts.
- Population displacement resulting from sea-level rise, flooding events and resource insecurity may add to the cumulative detrimental effects of climate change on mental health as individuals cope with the environmental and personal consequences of climate change.
The report also says that climate change “will act as a threat multiplier for environmental justice communities, exacerbating existing stressors such as air pollution while adding new threats such as infectious diseases.”
These areas are “more vulnerable” to the effects of extreme weather events, as they may lack adequate infrastructure, health, income and resources to prepare for and recover from natural disasters,” the supplement noted.