» Public health

Recent improvement and projected worsening of weather in the United States

As climate change unfolds, weather systems in the United States have been shifting in patterns that vary across regions and seasons. Climate science research typically assesses these changes by examining individual weather indicators, such as temperature or precipitation, in isolation, and averaging their values across the spatial surface. As a result, little is known about population exposure to changes in weather and how people experience and evaluate these changes considered together. Here we show that in the United States from 1974 to 2013, the weather conditions experienced by the vast majority of the population improved. Using previous research on how weather affects local population growth to develop an index of people’s weather preferences, we find that 80% of Americans live in counties that are experiencing more pleasant weather than they did four decades ago. Virtually all Americans are now experiencing the much milder winters that they typically prefer, and these mild winters have not been offset by markedly more uncomfortable summers or other negative changes. Climate change models predict that this trend is temporary, however, because US summers will eventually warm more than winters. Under a scenario in which greenhouse gas emissions proceed at an unabated rate (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5), we estimate that 88% of the US public will experience weather at the end of the century that is less preferable than weather in the recent past. Our results have implications for the public’s understanding of the climate change problem, which is shaped in part by experiences with local weather. Whereas weather patterns in recent decades have served as a poor source of motivation for Americans to demand a policy response to climate change, public concern may rise once people’s everyday experiences of climate change effects start to become less pleasant. Read More

The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment

Climate change is a significant threat to the health of the American people. This scientific assessment examines how climate change is already affecting human health and the changes that may occur in the future. Read More

Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE)

At the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE), we examine the connections between natural resources, technology, policy, human health, security, and changes in the global environment. Our staff and students conduct cutting-edge research on these critical problems, and disseminate that knowledge through innovative teaching and outreach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Read More

Informing the Public about Low-Carbon Technologies

Communication materials used to educate members of the general public about, and elicit their preference for, low-carbon technologies and portfolios. Read More

Psychological Benefits of Greenspace Increase with Biodiversity

The world’s human population is becoming concentrated into cities, giving rise to concerns that it is becoming increasingly isolated from nature. Urban public greenspaces form the arena of many people’s daily contact with nature and such contact has measurable physical and psychological benefits. Here we show that these psychological benefits increase with the species richness of urban greenspaces. Moreover, we demonstrate that greenspace users can more or less accurately perceive species richness depending on the taxonomic group in question. These results indicate that successful management of urban greenspaces should emphasize biological complexity to enhance human well-being in addition to biodiversity conservation. Read More

NIEHS Podcasts: Environmental Health Chat

This podcast series explores how environmental exposures affect our health. Each episode highlights ways researchers work in partnership with community groups to understand and address environmental health issues. Read More

UNEP Year Book 2010: New Science and Developments in Our Changing Environment

This publication presents an overview of global and regional environmental issues and policy decisions during 2010. Read More

Clearing the Waters: A focus on water quality solutions

This report discusses global water issues and offers a variety of proposals for countering the degradation of freshwater ecosystems for the benefit of public health and the environment. Read More

Green Infrastructure in Arid and Semi-Arid Climates

This brochure describes the benefits of adopting “green infrastructure” design principles to communities in arid and semi-arid regions. Read More

UNEP in China: Building Back Better

This booklet describes the cleanup and redevelopment effort in the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. A sustainable building design was included, which minimizes energy needs for cooling, heating, and lighting, is earthquake resistant, results in zero waste at the construction site, and is made with recycled materials. Read More


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EERL is a product of a community college-based National Science Foundation Center, the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC), and its partners.

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