Questions for ‘Warning: Climate change can harm your health’


In March, Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique, causing widespread flooding. It also sparked an outbreak of cholera. 

Climate Centre/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

To accompany feature “Warning: Climate change can harm your health”


Before Reading:

1. Scientists predict more health problems will emerge as Earth’s climate changes over the next few decades. What types of problems will worsen or develop?

2. What aspects of climate change do you expect will trigger these health effects? Name at least three.

During Reading:

1.   Describe at least five things that impacted health when Cyclone Idai came ashore in Africa.

2.   What is cholera and why did it become a problem in Idai’s aftermath?

3.   How many more people are expected to die between 2030 and 2050 due to climate change, according to the World Health Organization?  

4.   What are at least three health risks posed by algal toxins, according to the story?

5.   Lucifer was the name given to what 2017 event in Europe? How much has the risk that such events will occur increased since 1950, according to the story?

6.   Yuming Guo’s team calculated new risks of heat-wave-related deaths for 20 nations between 2031 and 2080. How much higher are they projected to be (compared to 1971 to 2020) in Colombia? How much higher in Moldova? (For bonus points, where are those two nations located?)

7.   According to the story, what pollutants combine in the air to make ozone? And why is the formation of ozone a health concern?

8.   What are particulate pollutants and what types of health risks do they pose, based on the story?

9.   What is a disease vector. Give several examples from the story?

10.  How many people die from malaria each year, based on the story? How might the areas at risk for malaria change with climate change? Which continents would be affected. (Bonus points if you can name each continent that would be affected.)

After Reading

1.   Choose one of the health risks from climate change that could affect a town near you. Now do some research and design a campaign to describe actions local community or government leaders might take to limit the conditions leading to these risks. Describe what you would have them do. If you have time, prepare a poster to present your campaign.

2.   Some people have argued that because climate change is a global problem, all nations should share in addressing ways to combat warming and ways to adapt. Others have argued that those nations whose actions have contributed most should pay the most. Still others have argued that each nation should pay to take care of themselves. What do you think is the best strategy? Explain your reasoning, describing both the costs and benefits to your choice — both for people in your country and to those half a world away.


1. Oak pollen sent 21,000 people to U.S. emergency rooms for asthma in 2010. By 2090 the rate could climb another 5 or 10 percent. If true, what would the numbers then be? Show your work.

2. The story says that Lucifer-like events used to be rare. But since 1950 they have tripled. Now they can be expected about once every decade. What does that imply was the rate back in 1950? Show your work.