How Climate Change and Air Pollution Could Worsen the Flu

Even though the flu is worst in the winter, climate change has a surprising and counterintuitive effect on the severity of this virus.

Source: NIAID


Where do you get your flu shots?

Flu season is fast approaching, and with it comes a Sweaty Penguin episode revealing that temperature rise, air pollution, and wildfires can actually make the impacts of the flu worse. But how can that be? The flu is at its worst in the winter, so shouldn’t a warmer climate help? Unfortunately, and perhaps surprisingly, it doesn’t actually play out that way. Today, we cover how influenza works, what this unexpected connection to climate change is, and what that means for the future. With special guest Dr. Jeffrey Shaman: Director of the Climate and Health Program at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at

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The Sweaty Penguin
The Sweaty Penguin is a digital news source and podcast aiming to make environmental issues less overwhelming and politicized and more accessible and fun.


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