By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island recently received a $250,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help the state address and prepare for health effects associated with climate change.
Under the grant, the R.I. Department of Health will be able to help create an action plan and coordinate activities to investigate, prepare for, and respond to such effects.
According to the CDC, weather and climate have always had a key influence on human health – either through our direct exposure to the elements or by providing conditions that help or hinder the spread of disease. Now, with climate change already bringing warmer temperatures to our state and nation – causing a rise in sea level and warmer ocean temperatures, and increased instances of extreme weather events – this influence will likely increase.
“We know that changing climates can seriously impact health and the spread of disease,” said Sen. Jack Reed. “Flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy, as well as our state’s historic flood in 2010, highlight the importance of preparing for future storms to ensure access, for example, to clean water and shelter.”
This federal funding will help Rhode Island health officials develop an effective strategy to prepare and plan for the health impact of extreme weather and climate change, according to Reed, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees CDC funding.
“Climate change is already hitting home in our Ocean State, with higher temperatures, higher seas, and more ‘bad air days’ forcing seniors and children indoors,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee and a co-chair of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change. “While we fight the barricade of special interests blocking action in Washington, this funding will help our state deal with climate change jeopardizing the health and safety of our friends and neighbors.”