Iowa has moderate vulnerability to the health impacts of climate change, according to a study from a non-profit, non-partisan health policy, research and advocacy group.
Matt McKillop, senior researcher at Trust for America’s Health, says the report found many states are woefully unprepared to protect their residents.
“Iowa is in the middle of the pack,” McKillop says, “both from the standpoint of its level of vulnerability and the extent to which it is prepared for the public health impacts of climate change.”
McKillop says climate change is not something looming in the distant future — it’s already here and is a current threat to the health of people in all 50 states. While Iowa is less vulnerable than many other places, he says there are still concerns here.
“The impact that residents feel from flooding stood out to us as something the state has to continuously work to prioritize and prepare for,” McKillop says, “and the state has taken a number of steps related to identifying threats that will be felt most acutely in the populations and communities at highest risk.”
The report says Iowa has not laid out specifics on how any intervention methods could be put in place to keep people safe. That’s an area of improvement McKillop says state leaders should focus on.
In addition to the derecho that hit Iowa with winds up to 140 miles an hour in August, he notes wide sections of the state were also suffering from drought – both of which likely stem from climate change.
“Certainly the extreme heat is a major threat from climate change. That is something that Iowa needs to focus on,” McKillop says. “Other types of impacts include record-breaking storms and wildfires as well as mental illness that can come from these impacts.”
Find the full report here: Climate Change & Health: Assessing State Preparedness.