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Snow in Seattle. Photo credit: Joaquin Uy
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By Grace Harmon / The Daily, UW

As this past year has shown, Seattle’s temperate climate is by no means immune to the drastic shifts in weather brought about by climate change. Last January alone brought four crippling winter storms and Seattle saw its coldest winter since 1985. This summer broke the 1951 record for longest time without rainfall at 52 days, which led to multiple, long-lasting wildfires and hazardous air quality in the region.

The U.S. government acknowledged just this month that climate change is an anthropogenic-driven problem, and as countries begin to develop their response to a changing climate, research initiatives are working to track our collective progress. While most research examines climate change as an environmental problem, one recent global initiative is interested in tracking how human health will be affected by a changing climate.

The Lancet Countdown is an initiative led by over 20 global institutions, with the University of Washington being one of only two from the United States, using indicators ranging from effects on public health to investments in coal and fossil fuel.

“There’s not been an effort to look more globally, in terms of creating a benchmark of where we are, what are the impacts we’ve seen, what are the risks that we expect are coming short term, and how we’re doing with managing those risks?” said Kristie Ebi, Professor of Global Health and Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington.

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