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Health Aspects of Climate Change
Speaker: Jonathan Patz (download slides)
Summary of Remarks: While weather extremes, melting glaciers, and crop failures dominate the public discourse on global warming, human health risks from climate change are of growing concern to both the public and health professionals. This briefing will provide an overview of these health risks and health system responses. First, Dr. Rita Colwell (University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health) will review major health threats, including heat waves, weather and hydrologic extremes, reduced air quality, rising allergen exposures, infectious diseases, reduced agricultural output, mental health consequences, and civil disruption such as population displacement. She will draw particularly on her research on infectious diseases, including both vector-borne diseases (e.g. malaria, plague, and many viral diseases) and water-borne diseases (e.g. cholera), explaining recent scientific advances in understanding the links between environmental change and disease risk. Second, Dr. Howard Frumkin (CDC) will discuss the public health response to these threats, drawing on a framework developed at CDC and now being implemented at the Federal, state, and local levels. This response involves longstanding core public health activities, such as disease surveillance, outbreak investigations, vulnerability assessments, health communication, and preparedness planning. He will also emphasize the importance of assessing the health consequences of mitigation strategies, so decision-makers can choose the most health-protective approaches. Finally, Dr, Jonathan Patz (University of Wisconsin) will introduce the concept of co-benefits, a key strategy in both addressing climate change and promoting health. For example, transportation strategies that reduce travel demand and favor walking, bicycling, and transit over automobiles, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote physical activity as well as improve air quality. The net result is a steep drop in cardiovascular disease, cancer, asthma and other ailments. Dr. Patz will cite recent analyses in the US suggesting that climate change mitigation could offer a substantial opportunity to improve the health of the public and save billions of dollars in healthcare costs and worker productivity.
Excerpt from: Climate Change and Human Health. February, 2010.
Watch Video (23 minutes, 9 seconds):
Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH, is a Professor & Director of Global Environmental Health at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He Co-chaired the health expert panel of the US National Assessment on Climate Change and was a Convening Lead Author for the United Nations/World Bank Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. For the past 15 years, Dr. Patz has been a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or IPCC) – the organization that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.
He is President of the International Association for Ecology and Health and co-editor of the association’s journal EcoHealth. He has written over 90 peer-reviewed papers and a textbook addressing the health effects of global environmental change. He has been invited to brief both houses of Congress, served on several scientific committees of the National Academy of Sciences, and currently serves on science advisory boards for both CDC and EPA. In addition to his sharing in the 2007 Nobel Prize, Dr. Patz received an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellows Award in 2005, shared the Zayed International Prize for the Environment in 2006, and earned the distinction of becoming a UW-Madison Romnes Faculty Fellow in 2009.
He has earned medical board certification in both Occupational/Environmental Medicine and Family Medicine and received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University (1987) and his Master of Public Health degree (1992) from Johns Hopkins University.
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