In Alaska's arctic communities, Inuit contemplating the need to relocate have reported that the loss of sea ice would make them feel like they are lost or going crazy. Zika and other vector-borne diseases have been a concern primarily for people in the southeastern United States. Recent research on the long-range internal migration of people from the coasts to the interior suggests a broader national concern regarding "climate augmentation" of disease. These are just two examples of the many public health effects we can expect as climate change forces people to uproot themselves.
In the future, extreme climate events — including more severe fast-acting coastal storms, rising seas, and more widespread droughts — will dislocate people and affect our public health infrastructure.
Migration can result in poor health outcomes when migrants find they have to face marginalization and discrimination, poverty, exposure to disease vectors, malnutrition, and crowding. Host communities may also experience increased demand on health services as they seek to accommodate migrants.
Climate change leads to three types of migration-related effects on health: 1) primary or direct effects such as injuries and death resulting from extreme weather events; 2) secondary or indirect effects from the increased geographical range of and populations exposed to new diseases; and 3) tertiary or delayed effects from disrupted ...