Exposed: Climate Change

Much of Appalachia is predicted to experience increased temperatures and precipitation over the coming decades, with temperatures rising by four to nine degrees Fahrenheit and fewer — but more intense — storms interspersed with short droughts.

Heat impacts

  • Rising temperatures can heighten the risk of heat stroke during the summer and increase production of ground-level ozone, a pollutant that injures lungs and causes respiratory illness
  • A longer growing season and higher concentrations of carbon dioxide will stimulate pollen production and worsen seasonal allergies

Food security

Severe weather

  • Heavy rainfall may cause flooding and threaten communities near coal ash and fracking fluid ponds
  • Drier periods and increased lightning will escalate the risk of forest fires

Vector-borne diseases

The distribution and severity of diseases carried by insects will increase as rising temperatures expand potential habitats and encourage viral mutation. Of particular concern in the Southeast are:

  • Lyme disease from deer ticks
  • Dengue and yellow fever from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes
  • West Nile virus from Asian tiger mosquitoes

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