"Excessive heat could kill more than 800 Toronto residents per year by 2080, a 40-fold increase over the current death toll," the analysis says. "Birds, insects, rodents and other organisms are carrying a number of serious diseases, common in warmer climates, northward into the Toronto-Niagara region." Malaria, dengue fever and hantavirus may well spread northward "due, in part, to climate change."

The Pollution Probe study underscores what the governments of industrialized nations already know. According to a 1996 World Health Organization document, Climate Change and Human Health, changes in global climate could result in a substantial increase in the geographic ranges of insect-borne diseases. Reduced supplies of fresh water, brought on by changes in regional rain and snowfall, may cause a higher incidence of some water- and food-borne illnesses and parasites. In addition, the report warns that an increase in extreme weather events, such as heat waves, floods and storms, could threaten human health through greater risk of death, injury or resource shortages.

The U.S. response to these dire warnings? Not to worry. "A range of negative health impacts is possible from climate change, but adaptation is likely to help protect much of the U.S. population," says a report from the National Assessment Synthesis Team published in 2000 and updated this year. "At present, much of the U.S. population is protected against adverse health outcomes associated with weather and/or climate, although certain demographic and geographic populations are at increased risk."

Additional research by Waris Rashaad Banks, Rebecca Winsor, Gabrielle Jackson and Josh Saltzman.
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