the human hazard: public health and climate change in Florida

Florida’s climate has long been known for bestowing good health, from the “healing springs” that drew some of the state’s first tourists to the warm weather that has attracted millions to its coasts.

But now, the changing climate is putting human health and wellness at risk. Our semester-long investigation of climate change and public health found that human hazards — from heat-related hospitalizations to disease-carrying insects — are on the rise in Florida.

Children, elders, low-income Floridians and other vulnerable populations are particularly susceptible to these risks, now amplified by coronavirus as basic programs are suspended to contend with the emergency. But potentially record heat, stronger hurricanes and other human health threats didn’t get the message to quarantine.

While the state’s climate adaptation work has focused largely on the built and natural environment, our reporting found that strengthening human resilience is also key.


HEAT: As the state shatters heat records, heat-related illnesses are up, too. Yet heat policies may overlook the most vulnerable.


PATHOGENS: Vector-carrying mosquitoes, harmful algal blooms and other pathogens have expanded in range and human impact.


S-STORM: In an age of flooding and rising seas, sewage spills have expanded as well, posing a health hazard across the state.


PEOPLE POWER: Paying as much attention to human resilience as to beaches and the built environment is a key part of the solution.