Underwater and overheated: A modern map of the world
Climate, Health and Equity Brief

Underwater and overheated: A modern map of the world

The Climate, Health & Equity Brief is GMMB’s take on the latest news on the current impacts of climate change. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so by clicking here.

Hot Topic: Extremes. Catastrophic flooding has brought devastation on multiple continents in recent weeks, killing hundreds of people, submerging entire towns and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes in locations as varied as Afghanistan, Brazil, Kenya, and the U.S. Gulf Coast.

In Kenya, mudslides have left hundreds of thousands homeless and led to a troubling surge in cholera—an acute diarrheal disease caused by ingesting contaminated food or water—just as floods have shuttered dozens of health facilities in the region. In Brazil, the city of Porto Alegre has been almost totally cut off, and 80% of its 1.3 million residents have no access to clean water after 80% of the city’s water treatment plants ceased working. In Afghanistan, flooding has killed 300 people as of this writing.

In the U.S., the Houston area received more than 23 inches of rain in just one week, exceeding Hurricane Harvey-level flooding in some areas, forcing hundreds of emergency rescues and causing untold economic damage. The floods coincided with a new study warning that sea-level rise and extreme storms are combining to wreak havoc along the U.S. Gulf Coast—where the sea has risen six inches since 2010—impacting coastal counties that are home to 28 million Americans.

Beyond flooding, 70 countries shattered heat records in just the first five days of May. In what one weather historian called “the most extreme event” in climate history, a severe heat wave paralyzed most of South and Southeast Asia, forcing hundreds of millions to endure sweltering conditions—most without air conditioning or other relief—that forced school closures, killed crops and caused a spike in heat stroke deaths.

Unfortunately, a new poll shows that IPCC scientists see no relief in sight. Nearly 80% of them expect the world to blow past internationally agreed-upon warming limits, with dire consequences. One bright spot in a period of devastating news? Energy and environment ministers from the G7 countries committed for the first time this week to phase out most of their coal production, or about 10% of the global total, by 2035.

Human Health

A new meta-analysis of more than 950 studies published in the journal Nature confirms that human-caused environmental degradation is making Earth less hospitable to humans and animals and more hospitable to many parasites, exacerbating the risk of future global pandemics like COVID-19. (The Washington Post)

Devastating floods in Kenya and other parts of East Africa have already killed at least 238 people and displaced more than 235,000 people across the region. (ABC News)

Severe heat waves broke all-time records across South and Southeast Asia, impacting hundreds of millions of people, closing many schools, wiping out crops and causing a spike in heat stroke deaths. (Axios, CBS)

Following several days of nonstop torrential rain, epic flooding in southern Brazil has killed at least 95 people, submerged entire towns, left more than 155,000 homeless, and left some cities with little access to drinking water. (BBC)

According to a new study in PLOS Climate, recurring extreme weather is disrupting New York City’s electrical grid, causing dozens of day-long blackouts annually in some neighborhoods, which can have deadly consequences during heat waves and cold snaps and at all times for people reliant upon medical equipment. (The Hill)

Planetary Health

Rapidly rising seas and massive storms are combining to generate epic floods along the U.S. Gulf Coast, where the sea level has risen six inches since 2010—four times faster than over the previous four decades. (The Washington Post)

A new study published in the journal Earth’s Future found that hurricanes are rapidly intensifying closer to shore, posing unprecedented threats to coastal communities and challenging existing forecasting models. (Axios)

Once home to six glaciers spanning 1,000 square kilometers, Venezuela has become the first country in modern times to lose all of its glaciers, as its last remaining glacier has been reclassified as an ice field just 5 acres in size. (IFL Science)


The Biden Administration announced new rules that aim to accelerate permits for clean energy projects while ensuring federal agencies consider project impacts on low-income communities. (The New York Times)

Oregon is piloting a first-in-the-nation program that leverages Medicaid funding to provide air conditioners, air purifiers and power banks to its most vulnerable residents to protect against extreme heat, wildfire smoke and other climate impacts. (CBS News)

Garment workers in Southeast Asia are suffering climate impacts, from cotton growers struggling to keep crops alive to factory workers and second-hand retailers enduring extreme heat and increased flooding in the factories and on the streets. (Grist)

The Climate Funders Justice Pledge, which urges foundations to commit at least 30% of their climate funding to BIPOC-led groups, has mobilized $135 million in commitments since negotiations with foundations began in 2021. (Axios)

Politics & Economy

Donald Trump urged oil executives to raise $1 billion to return him to the White House, promising to reverse dozens of President Biden’s environmental policies and stop new ones from being enacted if re-elected. (The Washington Post)

The House Oversight and Accountability Committee and the Senate Budget Committee released new documents demonstrating the oil industry’s efforts to mislead the public about its role in causing and addressing climate change. (The Washington Post)

A new poll of IPCC climate scientists revealed that 77% expect the world to blast past the internationally agreed warming limit of 1.5°C (2.7°F)—and that most are increasingly distressed, some to the point of clinical depression, at the lack of action to turn the tide. (The Guardian)

A new World Bank report says governments need to invest a collective $260 billion each year—an 18-fold increase—to seriously limit agriculture and food sector emissions by 2050 and that rich countries should reorient their massive meat and dairy subsidies to more climate-friendly alternatives. (POLITICO)

Life as We Know It

A new climate program encourages Los Angeles Museums to reduce their environmental impacts by reexamining their climate control standards in exhibition spaces to preserve energy. (Los Angeles Times)


Energy and environment ministers from G7 countries committed for the first time to phase out coal by 2035 but left some flexibility for Japan, which is heavily coal-reliant. (Associated Press)

Switzerland-based Climeworks has launched the world’s largest carbon removal plant, which will soon pull 36,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually—a tiny fraction of the 40 billion tons humans release into the atmosphere each year, but an important step for the future of direct air capture technology. (Heatmap)


Take a deeper dive into the devastating impacts of the flashing flooding in Kenya through the lens of a photo series by The Washington Post. (The Washington Post)

The world’s response to date is reprehensible – we live in an age of fools.”

South African IPCC scientist

The GMMB Climate, Health & Equity Brief would not be possible without the contributions of the larger GMMB team—Aaron Benavides, Stefana Hendronetto, Nikki Melamed, Sharde Olabanji and Marci Welford. Feedback on the Brief is welcome and encouraged and should be sent to CHandEBrief@gmmb.com.