ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Johns Hopkins School of Public Health researchers looked at all 50 states and the District of Columbia and found many states are unprepared for protecting residents when it comes to climate change health impacts.

The new report titled, “Climate Change & Health: Assessing State Preparedness,” was released Wednesday, December 9, shows Arkansas as the “most vulnerable and more prepared” group coming in at 41st of 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Overall, some states are prepared while other states have just begun.

The researchers’ greatest concerns are for states mostly in the Southeast, such as Arkansas, that are more/least prepared.

The following 10 states that ranked worse than Arkansas, and are “most vulnerable and least prepared”

  • Missouri
  • Florida
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma
  • West Virginia

Climate change is not a futuristic problem, according to the data, it’s already here.

The average annual temperature in the contiguous U.S. has increased by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1900s. According to the report, another 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit is expected “over the next few decades” due to past emissions.

“Americans are now dealing with record flooding, longer and more intense heat waves, more powerful hurricanes, and other devastating effects of climate change,” according to the researchers.

Humans must learn to adapt to this change, and the change will not affect people and places equally, according to the report.

Source: U.S. Global Change Research Program

FEDERAL RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Enact legislation requiring a national strategic plan.
  • Fully fund the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Climate
    and Health program.
  • Provide funding for adaptation research and scientific training.
  • Fully fund the CDC’s National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network.
  • Strengthen the public health infrastructure and its workforce, including by modernizing data and surveillance capacities.
  • Prioritize equity and resilience by supporting and protecting high-risk populations and by addressing the social determinants of health.

STATE RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Bolster states’ core public health preparedness capabilities.
  • Build health equity leadership in state and local governments.
  • Complete all steps of the CDC’s Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) framework, and continuously work to enhance and refine preparations.
  • Establish ongoing, dedicated funding and staff for climate-related preparations.
  • Engage in close coordination with local and federal partners.
  • Plan with communities, not for them.

American Indian and Alaska Native tribal nations and U.S. territories were not included in the assessment, owing to a lack of
comparable data, a serious gap that this country must work to fill, given the acute threat that climate change poses to many of their residents, according to the report.

The research was peer-reviewed, however, their organizations may not necessarily endorse its findings or conclusions.

The 140-page report was done through a grant from Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and funding from The Kresge Foundation.