Drought is a prolonged dry period caused by less than normal rainfall or snowfall for an extended period of time. Drought can lead to water shortages, meaning there is less water available for drinking, food production and swimming. It can also lead to other impacts such as poor water quality and more wildfires. Drought can affect our physical and mental health as well as the local economy. Drought conditions sometimes take years to develop and can last as short as one season or as long as many decades.
Climate change is expected to increase allergenic pollen in the air we breathe, increase mold growth in homes and businesses, and could increase air pollution from sources like wildfire smoke.
Heat can cause serious illness. On very hot days, sometimes your body temperature can get dangerously high. This makes you at greater risk for serious heat illnesses.
Responding to climate change will benefit health now.
Climate change will affect everyone, but certain people and certain places will be affected more than others.
In the past 50 years, Vermont's climate has been getting warmer and wetter. In the future, Vermont will continue to get warmer and experience more frequent heavy precipitation events.
Climate change is having widespread impacts on buildings and infrastructure, agriculture and other weather-dependent businesses, the quality of the environment, recreational opportunities, and physical health.
Heavy rains can wash contaminants into drinking, recreational and irrigation waters that can make people sick. Harmful contaminants include human and animal waste, industrial chemicals, oil and other fuels, pesticides and fertilizers. Heavy rains can also result in overflows of combined sewer systems, which are designed to treat both stormwater and wastewater at the same time. During heavy rains, there may not be enough capacity in the system, leading to the discharge of untreated or partially treated wastewater. Flooding can make all of these problems even worse.
As temperatures in Lake Champlain and other fresh water bodies continue to warm due to climate change, and with more heavy precipitation, conditions will become more favorable for blooms to occur.
Mosquitoes can be a major annoyance during warmer months in Vermont and can occasionally transmit serious diseases. West Nile Virus (WNV) has been detected in every county of Vermont and typically infects three or fewer Vermonters each year. Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has also been detected in Vermont and caused two deaths in Rutland County in 2011.
Climate change is expected to affect mosquito-borne diseases in two ways: