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BUT new report from the Colorado Institute of Public Health warns that climate change is affecting the health of Colorado residents, and those effects vary depending on where you live, with southeastern Colorado residents at greatest risk.

Released Thursday, the report “Think Globally, Adapt Locally: The Colorado Counties’ Health and Climate Index” updates the institute’s 2019 first look at the impact of climate change on health.

“The Health and Climate Index is an important tool for understanding the issues and the steps we need to take to address them,” said Karam Ahmad, senior policy analyst at CHI and co-author of the report. “We hope this project will spark needed conversations and help communities across the state plan for adaptation to our changing climate.”

The 2022 version shows that Douglas, Teller, and western Colorado counties are facing high environmental exposure risk scores. The data shows that in southeastern Colorado, Adams County, and several western and northeastern counties, their residents are also at high risk for health and access to care. Southeast Colorado as well as the San Luis Valley also have high risk scores for social factors.

“People of color, immigrant groups, lower-income Colorados, children and the elderly are more likely to be affected by the effects of climate change. Social factors and context—such as age, poverty, discrimination, education, and access to health care—all play a role in the risk of climate-related health impacts,” wrote CHI President and CEO Michel Luc and Javier Alberto Soto. , president and chief executive officer of the Denver Foundation, which funded the study.

Many of the counties where people are most at risk from the health impacts of climate change are also the least prepared, according to the report.

In evaluating various factors, the report considered the following:

• Social – percentage of the population under the age of 5, 18, 65 and older; percentage of the population of people of color; percentage of households below the federal poverty level; percentage of unemployed or without a high school diploma; percentage of the population living in houses built before 1980; and populations with ambulatory or cognitive difficulties.

• Health—percentage of the population with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cardiovascular disease, depression, and obesity; and the percentage of the population that does not have health insurance or who did not receive essential health care in the past 12 months.

• climate impact – number of days with extreme heat, defined as 90 degrees or higher; percentage of land rated as moderate or high risk of wildfires; the percentage of weeks that any percentage of the county’s population is in a severe, extreme, or exceptional drought; and the percentage of population on the boundary between the wilderness and the city.

• The report also took into account public perceptions of global warming, including whether they believe it exists.

Nearly every county in southeastern Colorado, from Fremont County in the west to the Kansas border, has the highest health risk factors.

Meanwhile, in most southeastern counties, one in five residents are not getting the health care they need, the report says.

Other high risk factors such as COPD, asthma, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease, and obesity are also highest in southeastern Colorado.







Health risks, CHI

Health risks in diabetes, COPD and asthma: Orange is the highest risk; dark blue is the lowest risk.




The counties with the populations most aware of global warming issues are primarily located along the Front Range, in counties in the Colorado River Basin, and in southwestern Colorado. The most skeptical residents live in counties predominantly along the Eastern Plains.

The counties with the highest risk of hot days, wildfire risk, and drought risk are located primarily on the Western Slope.

Poverty as a high-risk factor is also most pronounced in southern Colorado and several Western Slope counties.







Counties at Risk of Poverty

Districts based on poverty. Orange is the highest risk, dark blue is the lowest.




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